Fifty Shades of Louisa May

A Memoir of Transcendental Sex

Louisa May Anonymous

"A real love—and understanding—for Louisa May Alcott comes through." —Biblioklept

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About the Book

During the recent renovations of the Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts—home of the famed Alcott family—workmen repairing rotting beams discovered a handwritten manuscript tightly rolled into a bottle and buried in the earthen floor of what was once the root cellar. Conservators from Harvard University’s Peabody Museum date the manuscript from the late 1800s. Although the title page bears no signature, there can be little doubt of its authenticity or its author.

The text, published for the first time, will no doubt offend scholars—while capturing the prurient imagination of many readers. The author’s true purpose is lost to us, save for hints throughout suggesting that writing this mémoire d’amour served as a cathartic exercise. Only the manuscript remains, and it is offered in unexpurgated form here.

Louisa May Alcott, author of the classic Little Women, consort of Emerson, Thoreau and Hawthorne, beloved icon of professors of American 19th-century literature and perhaps less loved by their legions of students, had a lusty side that was less academic, and more . . . transcendental than any of us knew.

Brilliantly penned by a well-known writer who prefers the cloak of anonymity to the vulgar embrace of rude fame (of which s/he has no need), this hilarious little book reveals the unbridled passion-that-might-have-been of one of the world’s most popular authors.

A vividly written tome that just might tell us more about the sowing of transcendental wild oats than any ream of volumes on the subject, Fifty Shades of Louisa May is not for the weak of art, or for those who prefer their literary icons under glass. It imagines an unhinged Melville doing what comes naturally, a Centennial Ball unlike any heretofore described, Louisa May’s ardent encounters with her “Wooden Friend,” and much, much more.

Explicitly illustrated with X-rated woodcuts.

Publication August 2012 • 136 pages
paperback ISBN 978-1-935928-95-9 • ebook ISBN 978-1-935928-96-6

About the Author

The award-winning author of Fifty Shades of Louisa May has published a number of highly-regarded works of “dark fiction,” none of them under a pseudonym. For this book, “LMA” immersed her/himself in the literature of the Transcendentalists, reading literally thousands of pages by and about them. S/he is recovering, albeit slowly.

In the Media

The Daily Beast, August 8th 2012

Bookforum, June 29th 2012

The Huffington Post, June 14th 2012

Blackbook, June 14th 2012

Galleycat, June 14th 2012

Read an Excerpt


I turn my pen to this empty page to recount my hidden history in words that no one else shall ever read. Too long I have written for hungry eyes, eager to divine direction from “Aunt Jo.” In my books they find inspiration, entertainment, and comfort. In them, I find profits, fuel for the Alcott furnace, for which I am the solitary coal-shoveler—feeding in rubbish as fast as I can scratch words on paper. Had I only diverted some of this ardor from the page to the parlor, perhaps I wouldn’t be writing here alone, a thin-waisted spinster, porcupiny and dismal company to all.

Truly, I am the ill-tempered duckling who laid the golden egg. But no lucre will come from my work tonight. These pages shall be a litany of Love, a reminiscence of furtive hands and eager lips, of moments so charged that they light my mind decades later. This evening will put to rest the memories that plague me, that pain me almost as much as the dreaded calomel, its mercury twisting my body and tainting my mind. For the pain of missed opportunities there is no cure. I can only share these episodes with an audience of one, then burn the pages by morning light, scattering the perfumed wind of lost love over the chimneytops, expelling them forever. Like the fair cereleus, my pages will open and blossom in verspertine glory for one night only, then fade forever, leaving me in peace, finally, peace.

The sun sets over sleepy Concord town and the late spring light falls on the last of the evening’s travelers. The air is cooling and smells of new leaves sent out from branches gray and dead just a fortnight ago. Spring torments the ancient such as I with its false promise of infinite rebirth. I am brittle and dry as gray branches, yet no buds shall be found on me this spring nor any hence. There shall be no rebirth. I was born but once, and ahead of me awaits only the grave. Yet I can send my gloomy thoughts scuttling with a glass of Madeira from the bottle beneath my desk. Blessed Madeira, sent by Mr. Niles from New York by the case—only my faithful publisher knows my secret vice. For though I preach temperance by day, nightfall finds my heart beckoning for some sweeter form of solace to still my racing mind and careening moods. Others have loved ones to comfort them, I have a fine collection of tombstones on the ridge of Sleepy Hollow. Others have affection to surround them. I have only false admiration, the pitter-patter of polite applause after luncheons for armies of Little Women, stretching out like soldiers in some vast army of the tedious. Where others have Love, I have only memories.

Now I gather myself here at my desk one last time—I have sold the house of my youth and tomorrow it shall pass to Mr. Harris. I gaze out upon the hardpacked dirt of Cambridge Turnpike and brace myself for tales of lust and love, of the hidden desires that fuel the world’s turning. My new “blood and thunder” shall be filled with carnal episodes, some amusing, others touching, but all rife with the sighs and heavings of Love’s labours, witnessed by my clear, dark eyes. I shall go beyond the mysterious thrillers of “A. M. Barnard”, further than golden, hazy images of the meetings of young men and women among the hayfields and forests.

We are all Creatures of God, yes. But first we are merely creatures—embodied with desire and encumbered with the dovetailing machinery to spark Love’s celestial motion. How that last line sickens me! My mind is veneered with metaphor. For years I have longed to write truer, baser words. And now I will. Unencumbered by Audience, I feel a new freedom. Though I fill the trough with rubbish by day, I shall inscribe these pages with wicked tales more to my liking, writing with my left hand—the hand I reserve for the lurid.

Start my hand, guide my pen, and let the storm of words begin…

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