Petrulionis Wins 2023 Beverly Lyon Clark Article Prize

The Louisa May Alcott Society’s Beverly Lyon Clark Article Prize recognizes scholarly excellence in Alcott studies, and it honors the memory of Professor Beverly Lyon Clark, whose scholarship has had an enormous impact on Alcott Studies. A committee composed of three members of the Louisa May Alcott Society appointed by the Society President chooses the winning article each year. This year’s winner was presented with a certificate and a small cash award at the 2023 American Literature Association Conference in Boston. 

The committee would like to express its appreciation of all the work that was submitted for consideration. They felt that every essay offered worthwhile insights. It was difficult to narrow down our selection to just a single prize winner. While the description of the Beverly Lyon Clark Prize mentions only a winning article, they have chosen this year three essays for recognition. 

The winner of the inaugural Beverly Lyon Clark Article Prize is Sandra H. Petrulionis for “‘Faithfulness Itself’: The Imperative for Hannah Mullet in Little Women” from Little Women at 150

This essay embodies the high standard of scholarship that characterized the work of Beverly Lyon Clark. Through its insightful examination of the frequently overlooked character of Hannah Mullet in Little Women, the essay places Hannah within the historical and social contexts of 19th century domestic service. Highlighting the many instances when Hannah and her labors allow the March household to function, Sandra Petrulionis underscores how Hannah’s often unacknowledged presence enables Marmee to serve as a maternal role model and counselor for her daughters. Moreover, the essay indicates how the class and ethnic biases expressed in Little Women and in other writings by LMA complicate our understanding of the narrative voice within the novel. As a member of the committee observed, this essay “not only brings new life to Little Women but also demonstrates LMA’s complexity as a writer who can be simultaneously conservative and liberal.” 

An Honorable Mention goes to Marlowe Daly-Galeano for “Disciplinary Conversations: May Alcott Nieriker’s ‘An Artist’s Holiday’” from The Forgotten Alcott. 

This close analysis of May Alcott Nieriker’s “An Artist Holiday” makes a persuasive case for regarding May Alcott as an author as well as a visual artist. Working with manuscript materials, Daly- Galeano demonstrates how May’s prose sketches are grounded in both literary and artistic traditions, and that May’s approach to her subjects reflects an interdisciplinary sensibility, reflecting her ability to read a landscape or architectural site with an artist’s eye, while infusing her descriptions and situations with literary references and allusions that would have resonated with the audience she anticipated for her work. Teasing out the implications of various notations in the manuscript materials, Daly-Galeano also detects collaborative and conversational elements at work, encouraging us to see how Louisa and May influenced each other’s writings in significant ways. 

And, finally, a Special Recognition goes to Daniel Shealy for his “Introduction” to Little Women at 150.

The prize committee was impressed by the engaging narrative presented in this introductory 
essay. It not only provides contexts for the fine set of essays that comprise the collection, but also delineates the history of Little Women from the “girls’ story” that LMA hesitated to write to the novel’s wide popularity with readers and its later well-received adaptations for stage and screen. Interweaving comments from reviewers and readers, as well as from the personal writings of LMA and her Concord neighbors, this enlightening introduction, as one committee member noted, conveys “the spirit of Prof. Beverly Clark’s The Afterlife of “Little Women.” 

Congratulations to all!
Little Women at 150

To nominate an article for the 2024 prize, please click here