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Swiss American Historical Society Review

Swiss American Historical Society Review

Authors

Keywords

Switzerland, Swiss history, European history

Abstract

On April 2, 1870, Louisa May Alcott-the author of Little Women-embarked on a European grand tour with her sister, May Alcott, and her friend Alice Bartlett. The women's travels took them to France , Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and England. This grand tour was meant to give Louisa, who was riding on the heels of Little Women's success, a reprieve to regain her health. Her father, Bronson Alcott, wrote to a friend three days before their departure: "I wish Louisa were in better health and spirits, but am consoled in the hope that she is under weigh [sic] to find them in a foreign climates ."' However, the letters Louisa and May wrote back home to Concord, Massachusetts reveal times where their "dream vacation" was more of a nightmare, specifically for Louisa. Not only was she plagued by health problems, but she was hounded by publishers back in Boston, and her brother-in-law, John Pratt, passed away unexpectedly. Furthermore, Alcott and her traveling companions were caught between opposing armies and stranded in Switzerland during the Franco-Prussian War.

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