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The beloved author of Little Women was torn between pleasing her idealistic father and planting her feet in the material world. Louisa May Alcott's name is known universally. Yet, during her youth, the famous Alcott was her father, Bronson—an eminent teacher, lecturer, and admired friend of Emerson and Thoreau. Willful and exuberant, Louisa flew in the face of all her father's intricate theories of child rearing. She, in turn, could not understand the frugal life Bronson preached, one that reached its epitome in the failed utopian community of Fruitlands. In a family that insisted on self-denial and spiritual striving, Louisa dreamed of wealth and fame. At the same time, like most daughters, she wanted her father's approval. As her father struggled to recover from a breakdown and slowly resurrect his career, Louisa learned to support her family, teaching if she must, but finally finding her vocation in writing.

About the Author

John Matteson

I am a native of San Mateo, California, who came to the East for college and, for the most part, stayed. I have a history degree from Princeton, a law degree from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia. In between Harvard and Columbia, I worked as a litigator in San Francisco and Raleigh, North Carolina, but never really knew who I was until I put my law books in storage and decided to devote my life (or a fair amount of it) to reading good books and talking and writing about them. It's worked out pretty well. I'm now a distinguished professor of English at John Jay College in the City University of New York, teaching in the college's Honors Program. I wrote my first book, Eden's Outcasts, with inspirations supplied by my daughter, Rebecca, who resembles Louisa May Alcott in fascinating ways. Eden's Outcasts surprised all of us by winning a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. I was just as delighted with the response to my second book, The Lives of Margaret Fuller. I'm sincerely hoping that readers will take pleasure in my annotated edition of Little Women, published in November 2015.

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