The Story Behind Alcott’s Little Women

The Story Behind Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women

By Caroline Antonacci


With Greta Gerwig directing a new adaptation of Little Women starring Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern and Timothee Chalamet and Masterpiece doing a small-screen adaptation, it is clear that another generation will fall in love with the 150 year old beloved story of family and friendship. In honor of these new adaptations, here are a few little known facts about this novel. Originally, Louisa May Alcott did not want to write Little Women as she called books for girls “moral pap for the young”. She was convinced to write the book when her publisher offered an enticing publishing contract for her father only if she wrote the book. Once Alcott started writing, she could not stop. She began writing in May of 1868 and finished July 15. The book was published in September just four months after Alcott began. The women in the book, Meg, Beth, and Amy, were based on Alcott’s sisters Anna, Lizzie, and Amy respectively. Because Jo was based on herself, Alcott, unmarried, wanted Jo to remain unmarried as well. Alcott wrote in her journal, “Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that was the only aim and end of a woman’s life. I won’t marry Jo to Laurie to please anyone.” The Alcott family lived in Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts. Today, you can tour this house, the place where Alcott wrote her infamous novel and see May’s drawings on the walls and Louisa’s desk. Because of this book’s beloved story, there have been many adaptations including a Japanese anime that was released in the 1980s. 

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