November 29: Louisa May Alcott

On this day in 1832, Louisa May Alcott was born. She is best known for the novel Little Women, published in 1868. This novel is loosely based on her childhood experiences with her three sisters.

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Listen to Little Women on Lit2Go

Little Women concerns the lives and loves of four sisters growing up during the American Civil War. It was based on Alcott’s own experiences as a child in Germantown, Pennsylvania with her three sisters, Anna, May, and Elizabeth. Available from the Lit2Go free audiobook collection.

Louisa May Alcott

Modified photograph of Louisa May Alcott seated.

Civil War Context

Little Women takes the Alcott family through the Civil War years. Both Robert March (the father of the “little women”) and John Brooke (future husband of sister Meg) serve and are wounded in the War. Mrs. March rushes off to Washington when she receives a telegram from Blank Hospital that her husband is very ill. Explore over 900 Civil War illustrations from the ClipArt ETC website.

Concord, Massachusetts

A road map of Concord, Massachusetts, from the Official Automobile Blue Book (1919), showing the Sudbury River, major roads, railroads and stations, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, parks, and major landmarks. The Alcott family moved to Concord in 1840. Alcott is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery near Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, on a hillside now known as “Authors’ Ridge”. Available from the Maps ETC website.

Concord Neighborhood

A map of the vicinity of Concord, Massachusetts, during the Transcendentalism Movement around 1830 to 1880. The map shows the important sites related to the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott, and others, including Walden Pond, Lexington Village, and Forest Lake. Map available from the Maps ETC website.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) from the ClipArt ETC website.

Henry David Thoreau

Portrait of Henry David Thoreau from the ClipArt ETC website. Alcott’s early education included lessons from the naturalist Henry David Thoreau.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Walden; or, Life in the Woods was written by an early teacher of Alcott’s and family friend in Concord, Massachusetts. Walden Pond was just south of Concord. Free audiobook from the Lit2Go website.

History by Ralph Waldo Emerson

“History” by Ralph Waldo Emerson from the Lit2Go free audiobook collection. Emerson was a family friend of the Alcott’s and influenced Louisa’s writing.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850, is set in Puritan New England in the 17th century. Exploring the issues of grace, legalism, and guilt, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, a Puritan woman who commits adultry then struggles to create a new life. It was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, an Alcott family friend who also influenced Louisa. Available from the Lit2Go free audiobook collection.

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne explores issues of class and the pursuit of wealth against the backdrop of decaying residences. Free audiobook from the Lit2Go audiobook collection.