You"ve more than likely seen the emblazoned on everything from sweatshirts to coffee mugs, a Louisa might Alcott quote that countless readers have claimed as their own: "She is also fond that books, and it has turned her brain."

It"s not tough to see why readers have actually fallen because that the sentiment, especially if it"s review as a tongue-in-cheek embracing of the "dangers" of gift a bookworm. ~ all, how numerous times transparent the centuries have actually bibliophiles, especially women, to be told that reading too lot is negative for us for one reason of another: Women"s brains room inferior and also therefore unworthy that a official education! analysis will corrupt women"s morality! publications will give women the idea that they should have actually autonomy from your fathers and also husbands! The horror!

For modern-day readers, embracing a quote the so boldly says, "I"m a woman, ns love to read, ns have huge ideas, and I don"t treatment what friend think around it" is a an effective one, a thumbing one"s sleep at those who still think gift a bookworm is a bad thing.

I have to confess that I simply assumed the quote came from Alcott"s most renowned work, tiny Women, first published in 1868. I"d concocted the vague step in mine head: one of the March sister (probably Jo) is sit by the fireside with a book in hand, minding her very own business, completely unabashed by whoever was judging her proclivity for literature as unbecoming or "unfeminine." But, boy was ns wrong.

This oft-used quote actually comes from Work: A Story of Experience, which is Alcott"s 1873 semi-autobiographical novel. The story adheres to a young woman called Christie Devon, as she battles to assistance herself through miscellaneous jobs outside the home. The novel is collection during the duration of the polite War, and also is a comment on the transforms in women"s work-related that were developing in the new industrial era, as well as the tensions neighboring working women and the definition of that work. The scene in i m sorry the "fond of books" quote appears is therefore unlike the one I had actually imagined, and also it puts in an undeniably disastrous context.




You are watching: She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain

*

In chapter 2 the the novel, readers watch Christie functioning as a servant to a couple named Mr. And also Mrs. Stuart. Christie take away the job with the couple only to uncover that she doesn"t like them an extremely much. Mr. Stuart is a "hot-tempered and really conceited man" and Mrs. Stuart "evidently thought about herself together one belonging to a premium race of beings, and also had no desire to establish any kind of of the friendly relationships that may come to be so helpful and pleasant to both mistress and maid."

One night as Mr. And also Mrs. Stuart are returning indigenous an evening out, they view fire native the attic window. It turns out that Christie, who has actually been forbidden by Mrs. Stuart to store her gas lighted so late, has secretly provided a candle to read and fallen asleep, accidentally setup the room ablaze:

"In the attic Christie was discovered lying pull upon she bed, sleep or suffocated through the smoke the filled the room. A publication had slipped from her hand, and in falling had actually upset the candle ~ above a chair next to her; the long wick leaned against a noodle gown hanging top top the wall, and also a greater part of Christie"s wardrobe to be burning brilliantly."

Mrs. Stuart, much from thrilled with the discovery, starts to berate Christie:

"Look in ~ her! look in ~ her!" cry Mrs. Stuart gesticulating on she perch as if about to fly. "She has gone to the wine, or shed her wits. She must go, Horatio, she must go! ns cannot have actually my nerves wrong by such tragic scenes. She is also fond that books, and also it has turned she brain. Hepsey have the right to watch she to-night, and at dawn she shall leave the residence for ever."

Taken in context this beloved quote is actually not at all about embracing bookishness at all, but.... Around fire: both in the literal flames led to by a book, and of Christie"s being let walk from her job by the Mrs. Stuart.

See more: Amy Purdy Dancing With The Stars ' Restored Amy Purdy'S Femininity

But possibly you don"t must toss her quote pillows and also lapel pins just yet. After all, over there is yes, really no far better example the a commitment come page-turning than harboring a an enig candle to check out by, right? and also maybe the quote is actually all the much more powerful for its tragic context; reader will never be stopped from reading, whether that method fighting because that women"s education, ensuring access to story for varied groups everywhere, or just hiding in under the covers through a publication long after lights out — simply make certain those candles room a safe street away native the pages.