Louisa May Alcott
Alcott’s reputation as a morally upstanding New England spinster, reflecting the conventional propriety of mid-19th century Concord, Massachusetts, is firmly established. Raised among reformers, iconoclasts and Transcendentalists, the intellectual protégé of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, Alcott was actually a free thinker, with democratic ideals and progressive values about women – a worldly careerist of sorts. Most surprising is that Alcott led, anonymously and under the pseudonym A.M. Barnard, a literary double life not discovered until the 1940s. As Barnard, Alcott penned some thirty pulp fiction thrillers, with characters running the gamut from murderers and revolutionaries to cross-dressers and opium addicts – a far cry from her better-known works featuring fatherly mentors, courageous mothers and impish children.