Pratt, Anna Bronson Alcott, 1831-1893

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Anna Bronson Alcott Pratt (March 16, 1831 – July 17, 1893) was the elder sister of American novelist Louisa May Alcott. She was the basis for the character Margaret "Meg" of Little Women (1868), her sister's classic, semi-autobiographical novel.

Anna Bronson Alcott was born in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia on March 16, 1831. She was the first of four daughters born to Amos Bronson Alcott and Abby May. She was named after both her paternal grandmother (Anna) and her father (Bronson). Amos Bronson Alcott was a schoolteacher and from the time Anna was born, he took detailed notes on his daughter's development.

Anna was primarily educated at home although she attended her father's Temple School in the late 1830s.

From an early age, Anna was "stage-struck" and secretly longed "to shine before the world as a great actress or prima donna." In her youth, she and her sister Louisa created romantic melodramas which they performed for friends. While Louisa was known among friends for her comedic acting, Anna "could cause handkerchiefs to come out and much swallowing of lumps in the throat."

Between 1847 and 1849, Anna and Louisa coauthored a tragedy entitled Norna; or, The Witch's Curse. It was published after Louisa's death in Comic Tragedies (1893) which featured an introduction by Anna titled "A forward from Meg."

In 1850, Anna opened a small school in Boston with approximately 20 pupils. In 1853, she accepted a teaching position in Syracuse, New York.

In 1858, the year they moved to Orchard House in Concord, Louisa and Anna helped form the Concord Dramatic Union. Another member of the group was John Bridge Pratt. He and Anna fell in love while playing opposite each other in a play called "The Loan of a Lover."

The couple announced their engagement in spring 1858 and married at Orchard House in May 1860. Their wedding provided the basis for the fictional marriage of Meg and John in Little Women. Anna wore a grey silk dress to the wedding. Guests included Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lidian Jackson Emerson and Franklin Benjamin Sanborn. The early years of the marriage are portrayed in Anna's diary (1859-1862).

Anna and John had two sons: Frederick Alcott Pratt (1863-1910) and John Sewall Pratt (1865-1923). John Sewall Pratt later changed his name to John Alcott "in deference to Louisa [May] Alcott's will." Both worked in book publishing.

John Bridge Pratt died unexpectedly in late 1870.

After her husband's death Anna purchased the Thoreau-Alcott House on Main Street in Concord in 1877 with help from her sister Louisa. Anna had $2500 in savings and the asking price for the house was $5,000. Louisa offered $4500 which was accepted.

Anna's last years were spent caring for those she loved, including her own sons, her sister Louisa, and "Lulu", the daughter of her late sister May Alcott Nieriker.

Anna died in Concord, Massachusetts on July 17, 1893, and she was buried in the family lot on Author's Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Alcott, Abba May, 1800-1877. Alcott-Nieriker-Pratt family correspondence, [1856]-1912. Concord Free Public Library, Special Collection
referencedIn May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. Samuel Joseph May diary, 1865. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Additional papers, 1845-1944. Houghton Library
referencedIn May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. Samuel J. May diary, 1870. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Alcott, Louisa May, 1832-1888. Papers consisting of correspondence, literary manuscripts, legal documents, book reviews, and photocopies [manuscript] 1856 (1863-88) 1910. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Alcott, Louisa May, 1832-1888. Alcott family letters to Alfred Whitman, 1858-1891. Houghton Library
referencedIn Alcott family additional papers, 1724-1927. Houghton Library
creatorOf Alcott family. Alcott family letters to Anna Ricketson, [187-]-1893 and undated. Houghton Library
referencedIn Louisa May Alcott collection of papers, 1865-1884 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
creatorOf Alcott, Louisa May, 1832-1888. Louisa May Alcott additional papers, 1839-1888. Houghton Library
referencedIn Louisa May Alcott additional papers, 1849-1887. Houghton Library
referencedIn Louisa May Alcott papers, 1849-1931. Houghton Library
creatorOf Alcott, John Sewall Pratt, 1865-1923,. Papers of the Alcott family [manuscript] (1845-1915) 1932. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Pratt, Anna Bronson. Signature of Anna Bronson Alcott Pratt in Women's Parish Association membership list, First Parish, Concord, 1881. Concord Free Public Library, Special Collection
referencedIn May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. Samuel Joseph May diary, 1868. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Emerson family papers, 1699-1939. Houghton Library
creatorOf Alcott, Abba May, 1800-1877. Alcott family papers, 1830-1888. Houghton Library
referencedIn Alcott family letters to Anna Ricketson, [187-]-1893. Houghton Library
creatorOf Alcott, Louisa May, 1832-1888. Louisa May Alcott collection of papers, 1865-1884. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Emerson family correspondence, ca. 1725-1900. Houghton Library
referencedIn Alcott family letters to Alfred Whitman, 1858-1891. Houghton Library
referencedIn Louisa May Alcott additional papers, 1839-1888. Houghton Library
referencedIn Alcott family additional papers, 1707-1904 (inclusive), 1821-1888 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Alcott family papers, 1830-1888. Houghton Library
creatorOf Alcott family. Alcott family additional papers, 1707-1904 (inclusive), 1821-1888 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Books from the library of Amos Bronson Alcott, 1579-1893. Houghton Library
referencedIn Alcott, Amos Bronson, 1799-1888. Amos Bronson Alcott family papers, 1837-1879. Library of Congress
referencedIn Alcott family additional papers, 1820-1886. Houghton Library
creatorOf Harris, William Torrey, 1835-1909. Correspondence to William Torrey Harris, [1864]-1909. Concord Free Public Library, Special Collection
referencedIn Autograph File, A, 1518-2002. Houghton Library
referencedIn Alcott books : books from the libraries of Amos Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott and members of their immediate family, 1824-1887. Concord Free Public Library, Special Collection
referencedIn Alcott family. Alcott family additional papers, 1724-1927. Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Concord MA US
Germantown PA US
Subject
Writers
Dramatists
Occupation
Teacher
Writer
School Teacher
Activity

Person

Birth 1831-03-16

Death 1893-07-17

Female

Americans

English

Information

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