Louisa May Alcott’s Pseudonym? – Poetry News January 22nd

We begin the week by looking at an exciting discovery of work that may have been written by Louisa May Alcott under a pseudonym.

Discovery of Possible Work by Louisa May Alcott

A recent discovery by a scholar indicates that the poet and author Louisa May Alcott, author of “Little Women”, may have been much more productive than has been previously thought. A collection of around 20 stories and poems, which were recently discovered by a postdoctoral teaching associate, Max Chapnick, from Northeastern University, are believed to have been written by Alcott under her own name and also as pseudonyms; the latter for local newspapers during the late 1850s and early 1860s.

E.H. Gould is one of the pseudonyms, and the writings in this name include a story about a house in Massachusetts and also a ghost story written along the lines of “A Christmas Carol” by Chales Dickens. The collection has four poems penned by Flora Fairfield, which is a well-known pseudonym that Alcott used, and there is also a story about a young painter written under her own name.

The collection suggests that Alcott was far more prolific as a writer than has previously been believed. The discovery was made whilst Chapnick was looking at some digitised newspaper articles. He read a story called “The Phantom” by Gould, which he dismissed as being written by Alcott until he read it a second time and saw it contained her name. He also found more articles written by Gould in a simillar vein.

There is no definitive proof that these works. in fact. belong to Alcott. However, the president of the Louisa May Alcott Society now believes that they may, in fact, be some of her earlier works. They could indeed shed some light on her early career. The collection shows a variety of styles and an impressive range. His views are held by other Alcott scholars; believing that there is something very distinctive about the author’s writing voice which comes across in these new works.

Scholars have previously found works written by Alcott under pseudonyms. In the 1940s, a number of thrillers written under the name A. M. Barnard were attributed to Alcott. She is known to have also written as Tribulation Periwinkle. During the time, it was not unknown for female authors to have written under a different name, sometimes to protect the reputation of their family due to the subject matter of the writing. Writing under a pseudonym also gave a writer more chances to experiment with different types of writing without damaging their reputation as a writer.

The collection will now be added to the almost 4 million newspapers, books and other documentation held by the American Antiquarian Society, the majority of which has been salvaged from antique shops, attics and garage sales.

The discovery of this new collection has opened up plenty of possibilities for the future and now adds a number of new pseudonyms to the list attributed to Alcott, which could be used to potentially add to her body of work in the future as more research is carried out.

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