Louisa May Alcott: Early work by Little Women author published at last

Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scanlen in Little WomenImage copyright

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Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scanlen starred in the recent Little Women film

A little-known work by Little Women author Louisa May Alcott, written when she was 17 and left unfinished, is being published for the first time.

The story, called Aunt Nellie’s Diary, is told from the perspective of a single woman who is responsible for looking after her teenage niece.

According to US literary magazine The Strand, the 44 pages reveal a “sharp psychological insight”.

The magazine is now looking for writers to complete the story.

The story’s publication, first reported by the Associated Press, follows the recent release of the latest big-screen version of Little Women.

Though best-known for that 1868 novel and its sequels, Alcott had a varied career that included writing poems, short stories and thrillers.

Aunt Nellie’s Diary forms part of a collection of the US writer’s papers in Houghton Library at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

According to Alcott scholar Daniel Shealy, it “reveals the influences that sparked Alcott’s imagination and shows us an emerging talent on the cusp of a promising career”.

Written in 1849 and running to 9,000 words, the manuscript consists of nine separate diary entries, the first of which recounts the narrator’s 40th birthday.

The ninth and longest entry records “a sunny midsummer day spent among the woods and hills”, which is followed by a costume ball full of “merry dances”.

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