Happy birthday, Louisa May Alcott! She was born on November 29, 1832. 150 years ago, in September 1868, the first volume of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was published and became an instant bestseller.
NEAT FACTS ABOUT LOUISA AND HER FAMILY
- 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 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). 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 and Henry David Thoreau.
- 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.
NEAT FACTS ABOUT LITTLE WOMEN
- 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.
- Stream American Dreamers: Hawthone and Alcott on Kanopy
- Download an audiobook about Louisa or one of her novels
- Check out a DVD remake of Little Women (including a 1949 version, a 1994 version, a 2018 version and PBS's 2018 remake)
IN THE MOOD FOR A GOOD BOOK?
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.
A retelling for younger readers, with Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy between the ages of nine and thirteen. Cute and sweet.
A history of "Little Women," from its historical background to why it continues to be one of America's favorite novels.
What happens when you set "Little Women" in modern times on a military base in New Orleans? Find out!
What inspired the romance between Jo and Laurie? One author imagines a story.
Ever wondered what happened to Jo's children? This author imagines their lives through some left-behind letters.
Beth likes her family warm and loving, so she might like to read about a family who needs to learn to love each other when their mother is diagnosed with cancer.
It's exciting to be a big sister, isn't it? Winner of the Eisner Award, so enjoy the art like artistic Amy might.
Based on the lives of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf, what happens when one sister falls in love and leaves the other behind? I think Jo and Meg can sympathize.
What lengths would you go to protect your sister when a daughter has been lost in every generation of a Korean family? I can see Meg enjoying this novel.
If you like the bonds of sisterhood, read about the four Turner sisters who, to save their family, take their vaudeville act on the road during WWI. If you're an Amy, you might like this!
Two sisters, one sensible an one sensitive, and their lives in a small English village as they fall in love in this classic Jane Austen novel.
This novel is all about the bonds of sisterhood, particularly about Jo and her relationship with her eleven sisters that she tries to protect from their distant father while going dancing at night.
If you found out that you were conceived to save your sister with leukemia, would you save her?
Sisters don't have to be sisters by blood but by the bond of friendship and a magical pair of pants.
Beezus finds her four-year-old sister Ramona impossible! Probably how Jo sees Amy.
A family mystery sends Edie to an old castle where three spinster sisters live, perfect if you think you're a Jo.
Read about a family on the frontier and their daily lives, something that Beth, the homebody, might enjoy.
BONUS: True stories about sisters and sisterhood.