“The Alcotts,” a series of three lectures at the historic New North Church in Hingham, on Wednesday evenings in March and April, will revisit the New England experience through the eyes of old friends: Abigail, Bronson, and Louisa May Alcott.
Abigail May Alcott, the mother of Louisa May Alcott, will be the subject of the first lecture. Eve LaPlante, author of the just published dual biography Marmee & Louisa and the first compilation of Abigail’s private journals and letters, My Heart is Boundless, will give the first lecture, on March 27. Abigail was descended from Quincys and related to the Hancocks by marriage. She and her brother the Reverend Samuel J. May, who studied with Hingham preachers and led a Norwell congregation in the 1820s and ‘30s, were abolitionists and reformers for women’s suffrage and equal rights. Abigail’s work to keep the family clothed and fed and to educate her four daughters, while Bronson engaged in musings and lectures, was a life-long challenge. In Abigail’s words: “What a volume might be written on the Heroines of private life!”
Bronson Alcott, transcendentalist and utopian, will be the subject of the second lecture, on Wednesday, April 3, by John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Father (2008). Alcott, who lectured in Hingham at Loring Hall, was an early reformer in education, replete with wisdom and guidelines for the good life. We will learn of his life as a speaker, an educator, a utopian, and a family man. The utopian societies were those in the mid-1800s which sought to withdraw from society to create perfect communities. His “Fruitlands” experiment was noteworthy for its failure.
Finally, lecture guests will meet Louisa May Alcott, in the person of Jan Turnquist, Executive Director of Orchard House in Concord. Louisa May, whose signature often said “yours for reforms of all kinds,” was not only a noted writer who brought financial independence to her entire family, but also an activist for female education, universal suffrage, and women’s rights. Louisa will visit Hingham on Wednesday, April 10, and join participants for coffee, dessert and discussion.
Those attending the lectures who wish to visit Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord are welcome to join a group on Saturday, March 23, leaving New North Church at 9AM.
Lectures will take place in New North Church, located at 1 Lincoln Street in Hingham at 7pm each Wednesday. The fee for the series is $20.00 ($8 per lecture), please send checks to New North Church: Attention Susan Wetzel, 1 Lincoln Street, Hingham, MA 02043. Copies of the suggested readings will be available for purchase at each lecture. Contact John Bewick at 781-740-1117 or email@example.com to make a reservation, or if you have questions.