Scholar Interviewees

Sarah Elbert


Sarah Elbert has been on the faculty of Binghamton University since 1973, where she is an associate professor. The author of a critical examination of Alcott, A Hunger for Home: Louisa May Alcott’s Place in American Culture, Elbert has also written seventeen scholarly articles or book chapters on Alcott and other nineteenth-century writers, contemporary rural women’s lives, and the history of women’s education. She has edited Alcott’s novels Moods and Work, Louisa May Alcott on Race, Sex, and Slavery, The American Prejudice Against Color, and Diana and Persis. Elbert’s scholarly focus on Alcott when she was thought of as a minor writer contributed to the re-evaluation of her work and its elevation into the American literary canon.

Dr. Norbert Hirschhorn


Norbert Hirschhorn is a poet and physician specializing in international public health, commended in 1993 by President Bill Clinton as an “American Health Hero”. With Dr. Ian A. Greaves he wrote “Louisa May Alcott: her mysterious illness,” which appeared in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine in 2007. With Drs Greaves and Dr. Robert G. Feldman he wrote “Abraham Lincoln’s Blue Pills: did our 16th president suffer from mercury poisoning?” for the same publication. Dr. Hirschhorn divides his time between London and Beirut.



John T. Matteson, of John Jay College, has an A.B. in History from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. He also holds a law degree from Harvard University and has practiced as a litigation attorney in California and North and North Carolina. He has written articles for The Harvard Theological Review, Architectural Record, CrossCurrents, New England Quarterly, Streams of William James, and other publications. He received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his book Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, published by W.W. Norton and Co. in 2007. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled The Lives of Margaret Fuller.



University of South Carolina Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor Joel Myerson, an authority on Transcendentalism and textual and bibliographical studies, Professor Myerson has written, edited, co‑authored, or co‑edited some fifty books, including the Journals and Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott. Professor Myerson has been active in professional organizations, serving as president of the Louisa May Alcott Society, Association for Documentary Editing, Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, Margaret Fuller Society, Philological Association of the Carolinas, and Thoreau Society. The Joel Myerson Collection of Nineteenth-Century American Literature at the University of South Carolina comprises approximately 12,000 volumes, including major collections of works by Dickinson, Emerson, Fuller, Parker, and Whitman.

Dr Leona Rostenberg


Dr. Leona Rostenberg was a rare-book scholar and dealer who uncovered a pseudonym under which Louisa May Alcott wrote some of her thrillers, which led to the discovery of some thirty more. The discovery forever altered Alcott scholarship. A president of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, Dr. Rostenberg wrote numerous scholarly works on printing history, and memoirs with Ms. Stern about their literary sleuthing and their lives together; the first was Rare Friends, Old Books. Dr. Rostenberg died in March of 2005 at the age of 96.



Editor of many of Alcott’s works, most recently Little Women Abroad: The Alcott Sisters’ Letters from Europe, 1870-1871 Daniel Shealy is Professor at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. Alone or with Madeleine B. Stern and Joel Myerson, his editions of Alcott in Her Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of her Life, Flower Fables, Selected Fiction, The Inheritance, Lost Stories, Freaks of Genius, From Jo March’s attic, and the Journals and Selected Letters are mainstays of all things Alcott and exemplars of scholarship.

Madeleine B. Stern


Madeleine B. Stern was a biographer and rare-book dealer who, after her partner Dr. Leona Rostenberg found the key to locating Louisa May Alcott’s lost thrillers in 1942, shepherded them through republication in the 1970s. Ms. Stern wrote or edited dozens of books, among them Alcott’s Selected Letters and Journals, collections of criticism Louisa May Alcott, first published in 1950. Her other biographies include Purple Passage: The Life of Mrs. Frank Leslie, The Life of Margaret Fuller, and Bookends, a joint autobiography of Stern and Dr. Leona Rostenberg. Ms. Stern died in August of 2007.