Louisa May Alcott
Remembered as the author of the timeless classic Little Women, American author Louisa May Alcott was one of the nineteenth century’s most pioneering writers and a lifelong advocate of women’s rights, abolitionism and emancipation. Born into a literary family in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the daughter of transcendentalist philosopher Amos Bronson, Louisa May Alcott spent her formative years in Boston and in Concord, Massachusetts where she spent time with some of the great scholars and writers of the time, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
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Her childhood, growing up as the second of four sisters at the lyrically named Orchard House, would later form the basis of her most famous novel, Little Women. Although Alcott had written stories, poems and plays from childhood and published work from her early twenties – including powerful accounts of her time as a Civil War nurse - it was Little Women that made her name. Written after her publisher requested a ‘girl’s story’, Little Women tells the story of the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Like her self-modelled heroine Jo, Alcott was headstrong, determined and an inveterate tomboy, once declaring that ‘no boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race… and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences’.
The book became a near-instant bestseller and Alcott followed it with the popular sequels Good Wives, Little Men and Jo’s Boys. To this day it remains a classic, translated the world over, and has been adapted numerous times for stage and screen, including recently for an acclaimed 2019 film directed by Greta Gerwig.
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