Over 150 Years of Little Women

Happy birthday, Louisa May Alcott! She was born on November 29, 1832. In September 1868, the first volume of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was published and became an instant bestseller.


  • Louisa used to write pulp fiction (also known as potboilers and dime novels) under the name of A.M. Barnard before writing Little Women
  • The Alcotts lived at Orchard House, opens a new window in Concord, Massachusetts. You can tour it!
  • Her first book was a fictionalized memoir about her time as a nurse during the American Civil War (1861-1865), opens a new window. She contracted typhoid pneumonia.
  • Louisa never married. SPOILER: She also never intended her character Jo to marry. While writing the second installment of Little Women, she wrote in her diary, "Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that were the only aim and end of a woman's life. I won't marry Jo to Laurie to please anyone."
  • Louisa's family was friends with Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson, opens a new window and Henry David Thoreau, opens a new window.
  • Her father Bronson began a utopian commune called Fruitlands in 1843 but it failed after eight months.
  • Louisa was related by marriage to John Hancock. Yes, that John Hancock.
  • Her mother Abigail gave Louisa her first fountain pen when she was fourteen.
  • Louisa was a traveling companion to a socialite in Europe where she met Ladislas "Laddie" Wisniewski, whom Laurie was based partially on.


  • Louisa based her character Amy on her sister May, who studied art in Europe where she met her husband, a Swedish businessman named Ernest Nieriker.
  • Beth was based off Louisa's sister Elizabeth, who was also quite quiet and SPOILER, she died after holding a scarlet fever-infected baby after delivering a care package.
  • Meg was based on the eldest sister, Anna, and her wedding inspired the marriage of SPOILER Meg and Laurie's tutor John. Guests included Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.



If you liked Little Women, try these novels that feature close-knit families, sisterhood and traditions. If you're a Meg, Jo, Beth or Amy, or a mix of all four, you'll find something that's just right for you.

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