Her recently discovered first novel, The Inheritance, written when Alcott was just 17, offers readers a fascinating look at the birth of a remarkable career.
The Inheritance, set in an English country manor, is the story of Edith Adelon, an Italian orphan brought to England by Lord Hamilton as a companion for his children. With a charm reminiscent of Jane Austen's novels, Alcott's plot sets love and courtesy against depravity and dishonor and with the help of a secret inheritance, allows virtue to prevail.In their Introduction, Joel Myerson and Daniel Shealy relate their fortuitous discovery of Alcott's manuscript draft of The Inheritance (preserved at the Houghton Library of Harvard). They explore the forces both literary and personal that shaped the novel, and study how it foreshadowed Alcott's later work.
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About the Author
Louisa May Alcott was born in Pennsylvania, in 1832, the second of four daughters. After a period of serving as an army nurse, she published Hospital Sketches in 1863, followed by Gothic Romances and lurid thrillers. In 1868-9, she published Little Women, which proved so popular that it was followed by two sequels and several other novels. She died in 1888.