Boston: L. Prang & Company, [ 1889 ]. First edition of “the first biography of the celebrated author, [which] includes important selections of Louisa May Alcott’s now lost diary on life at the Fruitlands commune—the ill-fated social experiment of… [her father] Amos Bronson Alcott,” (ANB). Note that, while the copyright date in the present item is 1888, it was actually published in 1889. With a charming chromolithograph frontispiece, four plates, and four half-page illustrations, all by Lizbeth B. Comins. Chromolithographed by Louis Prang (1802 – 1929). Some toning to cloth, mostly to back cover. Ink gift signature, dated 1891, to preliminary blank. Light dampstaining to lower edge of about ten leaves. A very good copy of the rare first biography of Alcott. Publisher’s light blue linen stamped in silver and bordered in dark blue. Oblong quarto. 58 pp. Item #17027
Ednah Dow Littlehale Cheney (1824 – 1904) was an educator, suffragist, abolitionist, and overall social reformer. She established numerous important institutions including the New England Hospital for Women and Children, which offered medical education and surgical experience for women doctors; the Boston School of Design, a coeducational training school for art careers; and the Horticultural School for Women in Boston, as well as the Massachusetts Women’s School Suffrage Association. Cheney was the secretary of the New England Hospital for Women and Children for twenty-seven years and its president for fifteen years. Along with Alcott, Cheney was also a friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Julia Ward Howe, and James Freeman Clark. She admired Emerson and published important essays on his work as well as that of Goethe. Cheney’s passion for philosophy eventually led her to a teaching position at the Concord School of Philosophy.
Louis Prang was the preeminent American chromolithographer of his day. In Victorian Book Design, McLean notes that his printing was as skillful as the “masterpieces” of Owen Jones and Racinet (p. 138). He was also a “rival” of Raphael Tuck and De la Rue in selling Christmas cards.