Louisa May Alcott
Writer, abolitionist, and feminist, Louisa May Alcott was a daughter of transcendentalist educator and philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott and social worker Abby May. Her early childhood was spent in Germantown, PA. Later in life she moved to Boston and Concord Massachusetts. She was heavily influenced by her parents and their circle of friends. This was a turbulent time with the Civil War dividing the country with extreme and opposing ideologies.
Transcendentalists strongly believe in the power of the individual as well as the inherent goodness of people and nature. With heavy influences from Hindu philosophies and a focus on mind and spirituality, it’s easy to see how Alcott eclipsed her status of young women in the mid 1800s with all of her diverse outside influences. Her parents were even close personal friends with key players in the literature and the transcendental movements.
Alcott is pretty much literary royalty! She grew up with regular gatherings with family friends and transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Her childhood was sprinkled with adventures in Emerson’s library and trips to the woods to a barn called the “Hillside” (now “The Wayside”).
Although the Alcott household was rich in adventure, intellect and warmth, Louisa May had to begin work from an early age. She took her turn as a teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic helper, and finally as a writer.
Having written under numerous pseudonyms, Alcott finally used her own name after coming to terms with her commitment towards writing. Originally, she wrote impassioned novels for adults with smart and strong female protagonists. Soon she discovered the joy of writing for a younger audience which led to her renowned novel. Little Women delivered lifelong fame and the financial independence she needed to succeed in her career.
Alcott was a tomboy by nature, which lent itself to her profound imagination. She didn’t care for the same milestones in life that other women had in mind. This prompted her to manifest the amazing characters that come to life through her writing such as the March sisters. Little Women is largely based off of Alcott’s childhood and the adventures she had with her sisters. Alcott herself resembles the charming and undeniable Jo March.
“No boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race,” she claimed, “and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences …” -young Alcott.
Alcott never married, challenged gender social norms, and encouraged young female readers to run. She published over 30 books, collections of short stories, and poems. Alcott was an undeniable advocate for women’s rights and has stolen our hearts with her amazing and timeless stories. She now rests in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA.
The “Little Women” trilogy
Little Women or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (1868)
Good Wives, published in 1869; and afterward published together with Little Women.
Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo’s Boys (1871)
Jo’s Boys and How They Turned Out: A Sequel to “Little Men” (1886)
+ Several novels, short story collections, and poetry.
For more amazing stories by Louisa May Alcott, check out all of her works on her Wikipedia page.