It was a privilege to write about these great men and women, and a thrill to discover their private lives. The book begins when the Alcotts move to Concord in 1840,and ends in 1868 when Louisa May Alcott reluctantly sat down to write Little Women. It explores the variety of intimacies between these Concord residents and by adding the women in the community into the story, it changes the story. It asks the question: how did so much great literature come to be written in a few houses over a few years?

American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau

Here's a nice review:

We can’t remember the last time we enjoyed popular history as much as American Bloomsbury, Susan Cheever’s smart, dishy romp through the intersecting personal lives of a cluster of geniuses who all lived in Concord, Massachusetts, in the mid-1800s.

Cheever focuses on three houses that were, at various times, home to a mind-boggling range of bohemian literary bigs -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller -- while also working in bits about the neighbors (Henry James, Oliver Wendell Holmes) and the larger circle of friends (Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe).

The Concord gang transformed not only American literature and culture, they transformed each other, seducing one another — both intellectually and physically. For starters, Alcott was in love with both older man Thoreau and then much older man Emerson, while Emerson exchanged love letters with Fuller, though handsome Hawthorne (“a rat with women,” according to Cheever) also enthralled her.

All of these characters have, of course, been subject to countless biographies. But Cheever’s deft chronicling of their interwoven lives and her heavy quotation of overheated excerpts from private writings (“On his lips is the perfumed honey of Hymettus,” Fuller wrote of Emerson, “but we can only sip”) make this slim volume an unexpected delight.

Selected Works

"She's put together a smart and readable portrait of this artist as a seemingly perpetual young man whose adult years were filled with personal despair, jumbled politics, a mix of anti-Communism, polite anti-Semitism and American self-actualization as well as family heartbreak." --Alan Cheuse on NPR
"As a biography of one of the most humane and beneficial Americans who ever lived, it is a national treasure."
--Kurt Vonnegut
Literary History
"A short, steamy read."
--New York Post
Raising wonderful children in a difficult world
A poignant memoir of a man driven by boundless genius and ambition.
"Engrossing and remarkably devoid of self-flagellation."
--Seattle Weekly
"Ms. Cheever's. . . coolly intelligent perspective. . . provides a clear, hard-edged picture of the snobbery, sexism, anti-Semitism adultery, alcoholism, and emotional dishonesty that were part and parcel of those swimming pools and tennis courts."
--Wall Street Journal
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1989
Clarkson N. Potter, 1987
Houghton Mifflin, 1982. Paperback: Random House, 1983.
Simon & Schuster, 1981. Paperback: Ballantine Group: 1982.
Simon & Schuster, 1980. Paperback: Fawcett, 1982.