“Christmas won’t be Christmas without presents!”
Thus begins the arc of the psychological, spiritual, and romantic development of the four March sisters in the beloved 1868 novel Little Women. Louisa May Alcott was the daughter of New England transcendentalist philosophical leader and Unitarian minister Bronson Alcott. She grew up in a household rich in culture and visited often by the most free-thinking liberals of the day: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Louisa May Alcott became famous for her stories of home and youthful development that are still loved today: Little Women, Jo’s Boys, Little Men, Jack and Jill, An Old-Fashioned Girl, and Jack and Jill. Many movies have been made of her signature work, but few know that she also wrote under a pen name, A. M. Barnard, in order to help her family pay the bills. The stories were written for tabloids of the day, featuring blood-curdling plots and high romance.
Alcott served as a nurse in the American Civil War and spent her life as a contented single woman. An abolitionist and temperance worker, she worked tirelessly in feminist movements and women’s suffrage. She died of a stroke in in 1888.