Saturday, February 7, 2015

Little House & Little Women

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 148th Birthday

Thank you to Google for highlighting the birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Google home page for today.  Laura was born on February 7, 1867.

I will definitely order Wilder's autobiography, just now published.  

The contrast between the Little House on the Prairie books and the harsh realities of Wilder's own life is directly parallel to the contrast between Little Women and the hardships faced by Louisa May Alcott and her mother Abigail May Alcott.

Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante thoroughly and painfully chronicles the realities of the four sisters whose lives were transformed into fiction by Louisa.  This double biography was published by Simon & Schuster in 2012.

Their father, Bronson Alcott, was a narcissist and dreamer who did not support his family.

The girls' mother, Abigail May Alcott, attempted to earn money by serving in Boston as one of the first ever social workers.  Unfortunately, she contracted smallpox and scarlet fever, bringing them home to her daughters.

Ever wonder what Beth actually died of?  Damage to her heart caused by smallpox and scarlet fever.

Louisa, her mother, her uncle, and her sisters worked for the abolition of slavery and for women's right to vote.  When then Civil War began, Louisa wanted to serve, so she enlisted as a nurse in a hospital in Washington, D.C.  

Shortly thereafter, she contracted typhoid pneumonia, surviving the initial fever but permanently impairing her health and causing an auto-immune disorder that killed her at age 55.

At least she was able to attend a town meeting and vote for the first time in a local election in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1880.

Why do we love these fictional, romanticized accounts of women's lives but avoid the harsh realities?

Walt Disney and Hollywood have been giving the public sugary dreams for years.  

At last some of us are brave enough to drink the stronger medicine, straight from the author's own life.

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