Giveaway: Harriet Reisen’s Louisa May Alcott Book and DVD

Picador (October 2010)

Just in time for the holidays, Picador is hosting a giveaway of both the book and DVD: Lousia May Alcott – The Woman Behind Little Woman.

The Book (from the Author’s website):

A vivid, energetic account of the life of the beloved author whose work has delighted millions of readers, Louisa May Alcott portrays a writer as worthy of interest in her own right as her most famous character, Jo March, and addresses all aspects of Alcott’s life: the effect of her father’s self-indulgent utopian schemes; her family’s chronic economic difficulties and frequent uprootings; her experience as a nurse in the Civil War; the loss of her health; and her frequent recourse to opiates in searh of relief from migraines, insomnia, and symptomatic pain. Stories and details culled from Alcott’s journals; her equally rich letters to family, friends, publishers, and admiring readers; and the correspondence, journals, and recollections of her family, friends, and famous contemporaries provide the basis for this true-life rags-to-riches tale.

Read the first chapter.

This book has been making Top 10 Lists all over the place:

  • Top 10 Standout Selection 2009 (WALL STREET JOURNAL)
  • Top 5 Adult Books for Young Adult Readers (BOOKLIST 2009 EDITORS’ CHOICE)
  • Top 5 Biographies 2009 (NEW HAMPSHIRE PUBLIC RADIO)
  • Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2009 (BOOKPAGE)

The DVD (from the Author’s Website):

The first film biography of an American icon. Starring Elizabeth Marvel and featuring Jane Alexander, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women tells the story of this remarkable woman’s quest to rescue her family from poverty and to find wealth, fame and happiness for herself. To make Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, Producer-Writer Harriet Reisen and Producer-Director Nancy Porter worked from a script drawn from primary sources and filmed in many original locations, using documentary and dramatic techniques of the historical documentary, as well as experimental and flash animation, green-screen, and digital effects. The result is an inventive, entertaining, and intimate portrait of the surprising Miss Alcott.

Check out the opening sequence for the DVD:

More video clips HERE.

If you don’t win a copy, consider purchasing a copy here.

ABOUT the AUTHOR (from the Author’s website):

Harriet Reisen’s diverse credits include: in media; scripting dramatic and historical documentaries for PBS and HBO, co-producing National Public Radio (NPR) series Blacklisted [for Tony Kahn], and contributing radio commentary to Morning Edition, Marketplace, and Morning Stories. Music: two regional Emmy nominations for Best Song (with Jeanie Stahl) and Best Composer. Lyrics: songs on Rounder Records (Mason Daring, producer), and award-winning video, “Jersey Shore” (with Jeanie Stahl and Tony Kahn). Teaching: film history and criticism at Stanford University, and screenwriting at Harvard Summer School. Journalism: articles about Mexican language schools, Mexican Art, Mexican margaritas, and international adoption in Travel and Leisure, Provincetown Arts, Tin House, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Visit the author on her Facebook Page (accessible to even non-Facebook members, the site has great links to reading guides, a brand new photo gallery that just went up this month, a video, etc.)


  • Open only to U.S. mailing addresses (Picador will be mailing winners directly)
  • One winner will win a copy of the book AND DVD.
  • Contest closes on December 1st at 5:00 PM PST
  • Visit the author’s website here…and find something on that page (or the links from that page) that you did NOT know about Louisa May Alcott. Then come back here and leave a comment telling me what you learned.
  • I’ll be drawing a winner either on the evening of December 1st or the morning of December 2nd and will announce the winner here on my blog!


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    • Audra on November 24, 2010 at 11:05

    I’ve heard great thinks about this book and DVD! Thanks for the giveaway. Living near Concord and being a devoted Alcott fan, I consider myself a bit of an Alcott know-it-all but I have to say, the timeline is brilliant. I hadn’t really contextualized Bronson Alcott was establishing his commune at the same time of the Mormons and Shakers and other in the Second Great Awakening.

    Thank you for the giveaway!

    unabridgedchick at

  1. I would love for this to land in my Christmas stocking! I learned she fought for women’s rights, founded and orphange for newsboys and read to poor children at Walden Pond. If I don’t win, reading from the author’s website would be still be great. Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

  2. Dear Caribous Mom,

    Thank you for your kind words and enthusiastic welcome to “Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women.”

    The project — which began with the film and grew from there — would not have happened without my collaborator Nancy Porter, an Emmy-winning filmmaker who directed the production and has made many other wonderful portraits for American Experience and Nova. Her Amelia Earhart is a classic, and so is her Houdini.

    It took us five years to get funding, and much of it was on the strength of Nancy Porter’s distinguished career. Nancy reviewed, critiqued, proofread, and annotated the book, and our interpretation of Louisa – in both film and book – came out of our discussions over that time.

    Producing the film with Nancy was a joy as well as the hardest work I’ve ever done, Nancy’s persistence, knowledge, and leadership was critical to its success (and somehow our decades-long friendship survived it). Porter’s “Director’s Statement” at is a fascinating look at the considerations and process in making the film.

    So pass the word and give due credit to NANCY PORTER.!!

    Best, Harriet Reisen

    • Lindymc on November 25, 2010 at 05:13

    Louisa May Alcott has long been a favorite; fascinating to learn that the Alcott family was part of the Underground Railroad, and amazing that they not only advocated racial equality, but even condoned intermarriage.
    Thanks for the generous giveaway.

    • Bonnie on November 25, 2010 at 07:57

    I’d love a chance to win this book & DVD! I wasn’t aware that she died just two days after her father did. And at her death was found by her bedside her pen – she was writing a story – and her needle, threaded in red, on a flannel dress she was making for a poor family’s baby. What an amazing woman. I want to read and learn more about her!


    • Pam on November 25, 2010 at 08:42

    Oh, gosh, I grew up, biking distance from Concord and know everything there is to know about Transcendentalists and, namely, the Alcotts! This will be pretty hard but I guess I didn’t know that she also did theater for a while. I LOVE the area and time period and I neeeed to read this. Thanks for the opportunity!

    pam dot stennett at gmail dot com

    • Lori L on November 25, 2010 at 09:02

    What an incredible give-away, Wendy!
    I was quite surprised to learn that Alcott wrote Little Women “methodically in a few weeks” and that she described her work as “moral pap for the young.” I have a good feeling that this is going to be an excellent biography that both my daughter and I will enjoy – and then we can watch the movie together!

    • Carol Wong on November 25, 2010 at 10:02

    I didn’t know that she died just two days after her father. I knew that she wanted to support her parents for the rest of their lives but didn’t know that she was buried at the foot of where her parents were buried. That is so symbolic of her life.

    I am so glad that the author was able to get funding for the book and film. I feel very thankful for their long hard work in putting it together.


    • ellie on November 26, 2010 at 12:25

    This is an impressive and delightful giveaway. Louisa May Alcott was a favorite of mine when I was young. It was interesting to learn that she was an author of racy thrillers, as well as more than a hundred works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama.

  3. I had no idea that Louisa’s father had the family live on a commune for an experiment and the subsequent hardship it caused them. She really had an interesting life.

    Thanks for the giveaway!


    • Teddy on November 28, 2010 at 22:57

    I had no idea that she also wrote `racy`thrillers.

    If I win, I will have it sent to my mom in the U.S. and she can get it to me.

    teddyr66 at yahoo dot com

    • Kathy on November 29, 2010 at 13:04

    What a wonderful giveaway!
    I was suprised to learn that Louisa May Alcott’s first book was penned at the age of 17! What an inspiration she is.

  4. I had read 5 other biographies about Louisa but didn’t know she had considered suicide until I read Harriet Reisen’s book.

    I’ve been fascinated with Louisa all my life and started up a blog this past summer about it. We always have a lively discussion going on and would love to have you all visit. Join us at

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