1st Edition

The Forgotten Alcott Essays on the Artistic Legacy and Literary Life of May Alcott Nieriker

Edited By Azelina Flint, Lauren Hehmeyer Copyright 2022
    256 Pages 3 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    256 Pages 3 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This collection is the first academic study of the captivating life and career of expatriate artist, writer, and activist, May Alcott Nieriker. Nieriker is known as the sister of Louisa May Alcott and model for "Amy March" in Alcott’s Little Women. As this book reveals, she was much more than "Amy"—she had a more significant impact on the Concord community than her sister and later became part of the creative expat community in Europe. There, she imbued her painting with the abolitionist activism she was exposed to in childhood and pursued an ideal of artistic genius that opposed her sister’s vision of self-sacrifice. Embarking on a career that took her across London, Paris, and Rome, Nieriker won the acclaim of John Ruskin and forged a network of expatriate female painters who changed the face of nineteenth-century art, creating opportunities for women that lasted well into the twentieth century. A "Renaissance woman," Nieriker was a travel writer, teacher, and curator. She is recovered here as a transdisciplinary subject who stands between disciplines, networks, and ideologies—stiving to recognize the dignity of others. Contributors include foundational Alcott scholar Daniel Shealy and Pulitzer Prize winner John Matteson, as well as Curators, Jan Turnquist (Orchard House) and Amanda Burdan (Brandywine River Museum of Art). In this book, readers will become acquainted with a dynamic feminist thinker who transforms our understanding of the place of women artists in the wider cultural and intellectual life of nineteenth-century Britain, France, and the United States. 

    Introduction by Azelina Flint

    Part I The Forgotten Alcott

    Chapter 1 "Concordia’s Queen": May Alcott and the Town of Concord by Daniel Shealy

    Chapter 2 "Successive chapters in a romance": May Alcott Nieriker’s Influence on the Development of the Woman Artist in Louisa May Alcott’s Fiction by Azelina Flint

    Chapter 3 "Little Rafael"--May Alcott Nieriker’s Beginnings--A Biographical Sketch by Susan Bailey

    Part II The Ex-Patriot

    Chapter 4 Armed with a Brush: May Alcott Nieriker as a Representative Woman Artist in Paris by Lauren Hehmeyer

    Chapter 5 Alone Together in Paris: May Alcott Nieriker and Rosa Peckham Danielson by Amanda C. Burdan

    Chapter 6 Republics Abroad: The Art and Politics of Margaret Fuller and May Alcott Nieriker in Nineteenth Century Europe by Ariel Clark Silver

    Part III The Writer

    Chapter 7 "Disciplinary Conversations": May Alcott Nieriker’s "An Artist’s Holiday" by Marlowe Daly-Galeano

    Chapter 8 An Ideal Life: May Alcott Nieriker, Tourism, and Life Abroad by Kristi Lynn Martin

    Part IV The Artist

    Chapter 9 "Let the World Know You Are Alive" May Alcott Nieriker and Louisa May Alcott Confront Nineteenth-Century Ideas about Women’s Genius by Lauren Hehmeyer

    Chapter 10 Black Subjectivity in the Life and Art of May Alcott Nieriker by Julia K. Dabbs

    Chapter 11 "The Pure Hope of Giving … Pleasure": May Alcott, John Ruskin, and the Moral Aesthetic by John Matteson

    Part V Legacies

    Chapter 12 The "Precious Legacy" of May Alcott Nieriker: Her Paintings and her Child by Jan Turnquist

    Conclusion No Longer Forgotten by Lauren Hehmeyer


    Azelina Flint is a Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Her first book, The Matrilineal Heritage of Louisa May Alcott and Christina Rossetti, was supported by the Fulbright American Studies Fellowship and recovers the influence of Alcott’s and Rossetti’s mothers and sisters on their work. It appears in Routledge’s Studies in Nineteenth Century Literature (2020). Azelina has published articles on the Alcotts in Comparative American Studies and Horror Studies (forthcoming). She organized the first international conference on May Alcott Nieriker at Université Paris Diderot in 2018.  

    Lauren Hehmeyer is retired from Texarkana College. She has published in the fields of library science, education, and literature and received multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She presented at the Thoreau Bicentennial Celebration in Concord, Massachusetts, and at the "Recovering May Alcott Nieriker" conference in Paris. Her paper on the genius of Louisa May Alcott and May Alcott Nieriker appears in American Studies Journal. Hehmeyer is a popular speaker on both the Alcotts and Thoreau.