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Alcott, L.M.

Flower Fables.


Alcott, L[ouisa] M[ay]. Flower Fables. Boston: George W. Briggs, 1854.
182pp; purple cloth, elaborately stamped in blind and gilt; spine browned. Illustrated with a frontispiece and five plates. Trace of wear to head of spine which is very slightly faded. A firm, fresh and remarkably clean copy for a children's title. In a custom quarter morocco slipcase. Fine.
First edition. (1/1600 copies). Louisa May Alcott's first book and the first time she published under her name rather than a pseudonym. These were fairy tales (eight stories and seven poems) she had written when she was only sixteen for Ellen Emerson, daughter of the author's lifelong friend and beloved Concord neighbor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Alcott dedicated the book to Ellen and begins it with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Woodnotes." The stories and poems are moral fables: gentleness and good deeds bring their own rewards. While conventional, the stories show her particular vision. One haunting image has a young girl given to anger and selfishness finally surrounded by a high, dark wall, dying flowers about her, and spirits whispering to her that she must obey them "for by her own will she had yielded up her heart to be their home..." The fables were published six years after their composition and Louisa placed a copy in her mother's stocking for Christmas, 1854. She received the sum of $32 for the book. The book enjoyed a quiet popularity, going through many different editions for the next fifty years. BAL 142. Seven Gables' First Books Catalogue, although not in Goodspeed's First Books Catalogue.
While Alcott (1832-1888) is universally recognized for her novel Little Women, she also wrote several other children's stories as well as "racy" adult novels, the latter of which were published under the pseudonyms A.M Barnard or Flora Fairchild (one book, A Long Fatal Love Chase, was too sexually explicit to publish when it was written, in 1866). The second of four daughters born to Amos Alcott and Abigail May, Louisa, while never having formally attended school, grew up in a poor but education-minded family. She was fortunate to have her family's support for her writing, as well as the influence of her father's friends - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Nathanial Hawthorne - to guide her in her literary pursuits.

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