Know Your Author: Louisa May Alcott

For some time now, several blockbuster movies are film adaptations of Young Adult (YA) nonfiction, horror, and other genres of fiction. The intertwining of these two media is a beautiful bridge between movie aficionados and avid readers.

Upon learning that their favorite book will be adapted into a movie, bookworms can’t wait to see characters in their imagination come to life. On the other end of the spectrum, film enthusiasts sometimes get absorbed by the storyline that they read and look for more in the book where the film is inspired.

Take the Little Women, released by Netflix in 2020 and one of the eight adaptations of the coming-of-age novel written by American novelist Louisa May Alcott. Movie viewers who were in awe dug for copies of the classic novel to discover more about the award-winning film. Meanwhile, readers got more curious and intrigued about Louisa May Alcott’s inspiration because of the film.

Who is Louisa May Alcott?

Alcott was born on November 29, 1832, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, but spent most of her life in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts. She was the second of four sisters: Anna Bronson Alcott, the eldest, and Elizabeth Sewall Alcott and Abigail May Alcott, the two youngest.

Growing up, she was surrounded by other famous literary figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, who were the friends of her father Bronson Alcott.

It seemed as if Louisa May was born to write. As she worked as a nurse, she still found solace in writing. Before becoming a famed novelist, she briefly worked in Union Hospital in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. She also contributed short stories and novels for youth to the American magazine Atlantic Monthly, which is now called The Atlantic, to help her family face financial difficulties.

The success of The Little Women

Alcott successfully published her classic novel Little Women: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy in 1968. It is said that it is inspired by the Alcott sisters’ life experiences in their family home in Massachusetts.

In Louisa May’s novel, she writes about Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March as they journey through life. Like the Alcott family, the March sisters lived their challenging and modest lives with optimism and love for the family. The book mirrored reality and painted a wholesome picture of family life, which the young readers could easily relate to.

The Little Women remained popular with younger readers across all generations. It even inspired several movie adaptations, including the recent one by Sony Entertainment Pictures, starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Roberts, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen.

Because of Little Women’s success, Louisa May was able to pay off all her family’s debts. She released sequels titled Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo’s Boys in 1871 and Jo’s Boys and How They Turned Out in 1886. She also wrote An Old-Fashioned Girl, Eight Cousins, and Rose in Bloom in the 1870s. 

Louisa May lived a full life. Before passing at the age of 55, she took care of her parents. She also co-founded the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union in Boston to push for women’s and children’s advancement.

“Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”

― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

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