My Heart is Boundless

Writings of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa's Mother

My Heart is Boundless

Edited by: Eve LaPlante
Edited by award-winning biographer Eve LaPlante, a collection of the letters and diaries of Louisa May Alcott’s mother, Abigail—a forward-thinking feminist whose advice and example profoundly shaped her famous daughter

Little Women’s “Marmee” is one of the most recognizable mothers in American literature. But the real woman behind the fiction—Louisa May Alcott’s own mother, Abigail—has for more than a century remained shrouded in mystery. Scholars believed that her papers were burned by her daughter and husband, as they claimed, and that little additional information survived.

Until now. When Abigail’s biographer and great-niece Eve LaPlante found a collection of letters and diaries in an attic trunk and began exploring the Alcott family archives, a window opened onto the life of this woman who has for too long been hiding in plain sight. These discoveries, and others, inform LaPlante’s groundbreaking new dual biography, Marmee & Louisa, a companion volume to My Heart Is Boundless. No self-effacing housewife, Abigail was a passionate writer and thinker, a feminist far ahead of her time. She taught her daughters the importance of supporting themselves and dreamed of a day when a woman, like a man, could enjoy both a family and a career.

Here at last, in her own words, is this extraordinary woman’s story, brought to the public for the first time. Full of wit, charm, and astonishing wisdom, Abigail’s private writings offer a moving, intimate portrait of a mother, a wife, a sister, and a fierce intellect that demands to be heard.
  • Free Press | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476702803 | 
  • November 2012
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for My Heart is Boundless: Writings of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa’s Mother includes an introduction and discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Until now, everyone believed that Abigail May Alcott, the model for “Marmee” in Little Women, left behind no written records because her family burned all her private papers after she died. In fact, hundreds of pages of Abigail’s letters and journals survived, not only in relatives’ attics and friends’ farmhouses but also in university archives, where for more than a century they have been hiding in plain sight. These papers, collected and edited by her great niece Eve LaPlante, reveal the inner life of “a witty…captivating writer” (Publishers Weekly ) whose “moral conviction and strong character kept her engaged in social issues” (Kirkus Reviews). Abigail May Alcott, one of America’s earliest abolitionists, suffragists, and social workers, was truly a woman for our time.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. Abigail May Alcott had dreams familiar to many women today. She desired an education, power and inde see more

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