Lot 5: Alcott on a Theatrical Show in Concord: "The actors laughed so it was difficult to go on"
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
October 26, 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Discussing Details of a Theatrical Production in Concord: “The actors laughed so it was difficult to go on” ********** ALCOTT, LOUISA MAY. (1832-1888). American author best known for her novel Little Women. ALS. (“L.M. Alcott”). 2pp. 8vo. N.p., November 12 (after 1857). To Mr. Williams. ********** “The manager of the Concord Dramatic Co. desires me to thank you for your kindness about the plays, & to ask if he can have two more copies? He begs to know the price of those he has had & any expense we may have given you. The play was rehearsed last eve. & the actors laughed so it was difficult to go on. The lady who plays Mrs. Bangs says it is the best part she ever had, & enjoys it immensely. I am to go to the next rehearsal & give hints if necessary, which is an unusual honor. The play comes Wed. eve Dec. 5th, the opening night of the Lyceum course. Please let me know if you have any friends to whom I can send tickets, & it will give me pleasure to do so. With warm regards to all…” ********** The daughter of transcendentalist Amos Bronson Alcott and abolitionist Abigail May, Alcott had an unconventional upbringing. She spent her childhood living according to her father’s transcendentalist ideals including time spent in a short-lived Utopian community which the elder Alcott helped found. Living out his philosophy often meant financial hardship as his schools failed for being too progressive and Louisa May Alcott began her writing career to help alleviate her family’s situation, earning money by selling magazine articles, gothic romance novels and stories for children. However, her reputation was made with the publication of the novel Little Women and a series of subsequent related novels including Little Men. Little Women’s headstrong protagonist, Jo, was based on Alcott’s own experiences as a willful and independent child. The book also recounts the sisters’ amateur theatricals of which our letter is reminiscent. ********** “In 1857, when [the Alcotts] returned to Concord [from New Hampshire where they lived for two years], Louisa helped Frank Sanborn, who had recently graduated from Harvard established a private academy in the village, form the Concord Dramatic Union. Here, both Louisa and [her sister] Anna took to the stage, along with Anna’s future husband, John Bridge,” (Little Women: An Annotated Edition, ed. Shealy). Our letter likely refers to a production of Fashions and Follies of Washington Life, a satirical five-act play published by Henry Clay Preuss in March 1857 that features a character by the name of Mrs. Bangs. ********** A part of the American Lyceum Movement, the Concord Lyceum was founded in 1829 and flourished thanks in large part to Concord resident Henry David Thoreau who curated its lecture series and was himself a frequent orator there and at similar institutions across New England. ********** Very neatly written on a folded sheet which has been folded into thirds. In very good condition.