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Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Alcott wrote the books rapidly over several months at the request of her publisher. The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood, and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters. Little Women was an immediate commercial and critical success, and readers demanded to know more about the characters. Alcott quickly completed a second volume, entitled Good Wives. It was also successful. The two volumes were issued in 1880 in a single work entitled Little Women. Alcott also wrote two sequels to her popular work, both of which also featured the March sisters: Little Men (1871) and Jo's Boys (1886). Although Little Women was a novel for girls, it differed notably from the current writings for children, especially girls. The novel addressed three major themes: "domesticity, work, and true love, all of them interdependent and each necessary to the achievement of its heroine's individual identity." Little Women "has been read as a romance or as a quest, or both. It has been read as a family drama that validates virtue over wealth", but also "as a means of escaping that life by women who knew its gender constraints only too well". According to Sarah Elbert, Alcott created a new form of literature, one that took elements from Romantic children's fiction and combined it with others from sentimental novels, resulting in a totally new format. Elbert argued that within Little Women can be found the first vision of the "All-American girl" and that her multiple aspects are embodied in the differing March sisters.
been planned, but the girls would not leave their father; so the guests departed early, and as twilight gathered, the happy family sat together round the fire. “Just a year ago we were groaning over the dismal Christmas we expected to have. Do you remember?” asked Jo, breaking a short pause which had followed a long conversation about many things. “Rather a pleasant year on the whole!” said Meg, smiling at the fire, and congratulating herself on having treated Mr. Brooke with dignity. “I think
him, and I’m proud to think he cares for me, though I’m so poor and young and silly,” said Meg, looking prettier than ever in her earnestness. “He knows you have got rich relations, child; that’s the secret of his liking, I suspect.” “Aunt March, how dare you say such a thing? John is above such meanness, and I won’t listen to you a minute if you talk so,” cried Meg indignantly, forgetting everything but the injustice of the old lady’s suspicions. “My John wouldn’t marry for money, any more
post. Anna and John give birth to a child, who will become Alcott’s heir. Alcott travels to Europe as an assistant to an invalid, Anna Weld; there she meets Ladislas Wisniewski, the inspiration for Laurie in Little Women. The Confederates surrender at Appomattox, marking the end of the Civil War. Lincoln is assassinated on April 14. Lewis Carroll publishes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 1867 Alcott accepts editorship of the children’s magazine Merry’s Museum for $500 per year. 1868 She
retired to her room, overcome with emotion and lobster; but there was no place of repose, for the beds were not made, and she found her grief much assuaged by beating up pillows and putting things in order. Meg helped Jo clear away the remains of the feast, which took half the afternoon and left them so tired that they agreed to be contented with tea and toast for supper. Laurie took Amy to drive, which was a deed of charity, for the sour cream seemed to have had a bad effect upon her temper.
budding beautifully, and each groaned or sighed as she sat down, as if tired or troubled. “What a dreadful day this has been!” began Jo, usually the first to speak. “It has seemed shorter than usual, but so uncomfortable,” said Meg. “Not a bit like home,” added Amy. “It can’t seem so without Marmee and little Pip,” sighed Beth, glancing with full eyes at the empty cage above her head. “Here’s Mother, dear, and you shall have another bird tomorrow, if you want it.” As she spoke, Mrs. March