The Book of Jezebel: A Is For Alcott, Louisa May

Welcome! As you may have heard, on October 22nd, we'll be publishing our first book, a 300-page, hardcover illustrated encyclopedia of the world called The Book of Jezebel. In honor of this milestone —which took multiple years and many dozens of contributors to execute—we'll be posting one entry from the book a day for the next 26 days, starting with today's sneak peek from the letter "A" and continuing on through to "Z". Although the book itself has already been printed — and it's gorgeous — questions, additions, annotations and suggestions on the entries that appear online are welcomed and encouraged.

Alcott, Louisa May (1832-1888)

Writer of books including the much-beloved Little Women. Alcott based the novel's headstrong Jo March on herself. In real life, the author's upbringing was more colorful: her father, Bronson Alcott, was a noted transcendentalist and impractical crank who dragged the family between ill-fated utopian communities and instilled an appreciation for progressive causes. (The Alcotts housed a fugitive slave for week during Louisa's early adolescence.) It's no wonder, then, that her narratives championed independent women. One nineteenth-century critic called her oeuvre, which featured freethinkers and early feminist themes, "among the decided 'signs of the times.'" Alcott's novels were major bestsellers, yes, but her heroines—including progressive heiress Rose Campbell and independent music teacher Polly Milton—did more than make money: they created a new model for young women. As Alcott famously wrote in her childhood journal, "I want to do something splendid...Something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after I'm dead...I think I shall write books."

(Illustration by Sarah Glidden for The Book of Jezebel.)

Learn more about the writers and artists who contributed to the book on the official Book of Jezebel site.

Pre-order the book here and see a tour schedule here.

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