Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Burst of Literary Birthdays

Today celebrates the birth date of Louisa May Alcott born November 29,1832. Coincidentally she and her father Bronson Alcott share the same birth date. 

For her books, Alcott was often inspired by familiar elements. The characters in "Little Women" are recognizably drawn from family members and friends. However, Alcott's portrayal, even if inspired by her family, is an idealized one. For instance, Mr. March is portrayed as a hero of the American Civil War, a gainfully employed chaplain and, presumably, a source of inspiration to the women of the family. He is absent for most of the novel.
In contrast, Bronson Alcott was very present in his family's household, due in part to his inability to find steady work. While he espoused many of the educational principles touted by the March family, he was loud and dictatorial. His lack of financial independence was a source of humiliation to his wife and daughters. As was common at the time, Louisa had little formal education. She was taught mainly by her father using his unconventional ideas about education. She read from the library of neighbor Ralph Waldo Emerson and learned botany from Henry David Thoreau.
Louisa early on realized that her father's flighty educational and philosophical ventures could not adequately support the family so she sought ways to provide financial stability. She wrote short stories for magazines and published a collection of fables she'd originally written as tutor for Ellen Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson's daughter.

The March family is portrayed living in genteel penury, but the Alcott family, dependent on an improvident, impractical father, suffered real poverty and occasional hunger. In addition to her own childhood and that of her sisters, scholars who have come across the diaries of Louisa Alcott's mother, have surmised that Little Women was also heavily inspired by Abigail Alcott's own early life.

C.S. Lewis was a British novelist, scholar, writer of pro-Christian texts and poet but best known for the Chronicles of Narnia series, seven volumes of stories about young children who find entry to another world through an old wardrobe. They meet a magisterial lion named Aslan who asks for their help in battling evil. Aslan says, "I never tell anyone any story except his own."

Lewis was born Clive Staples Lewis in Belfast, Ireland Nov. 29, 1898. His mother died when he was young and he spent much of his time at boarding school, where his headmaster wielded a cane and admonished students to "Think!"
Before becoming a scholar of classics at Oxford University, Lewis served as an infantryman in World War I. He was wounded in the back, he said, "oddly enough by a British shell." He became lifelong friends with writer J.R.R. Tolkien, and they met weekly at Oxford for tea and literary discussion with other writers for 16 years. They called themselves "The Inklings."
Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007) was an American author of young adult fiction, Christian fiction, science fiction, poetry and non-fiction. She is the author of the Time Quintet and Austin Family series. She started writing when she was eight years old, keeping a journal. Because she was shy, clumsy as a child, she was considered to be stupid by her teachers, causing her to spend more time reading and writing. After a career that was not going well financially, L’Engle was strongly considering retiring from writing on her 40th birthday, but soon came up with the idea for what would become her best-known work, "A Wrinkle in Time." The young adult novel won the Newbery Award.
Cheddar-Veggie Appetizer Torte
Cook's notes: Check out this  easy appetizer recipe.  It's a quiche like torte baked in a springform pan served warm or cold. Perfect for holiday entertaining.


  1. Have you eaten the appetizer cold? Wondering if you liked the taste.

  2. I had it at room temperature which was fine as I do not think cold would compromise the taste