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The charming story of the March sisters, Little Women has been adored by generations. Readers have rooted for Laurie in his pursuit of Jo's hand, cried over little Beth's death, and dreamed of travelling through Europe with old Aunt March and Amy. Future writers have found inspiration in Jo's devotion to her writing. In this simple, enthralling tale, both parts of which are included here, Louisa May Alcott has created four of American literature's most beloved women. In her enlightening, thoughtful introduction, Elaine Showalter discusses Louisa May Alcott's influences, and her aspirations for Little Women, as well as the impact the novel has had on such women writers as Joyce Carol Oates and Cynthia Ozick.
Louisa May Alcott (29 November 1832 - 6 March 1888) was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania. When she was almost two years old, Louisa's family moved to Massachusetts, the state where she lived for much of her life. The family moved many times over the years, usually back and forth between Boston and Concord (Mass.). Some notable places Louisa lived were 'Fruitlands' in Harvard, Massachusetts; 'Hillside' in Concord; and 'Orchard House,' also in Concord. 'Fruitlands' was the site of her father's attempt at Utopian living, which she wrote about in Transcendental Wild Oats, thirty years later in 1873. Louisa's childhood at 'Hillside' (later renamed 'Wayside' by Nathaniel Hawthorne, when he lived there) served as the basis for the action in her most popular novel, Little Women, which she wrote as an adult living in 'Orchard House.' Interestingly, these latter two houses were located next door to each other, with a walking path through the woods between. They are both still standing and open for tours in Concord.
Louisa May Alcott's father, Amos Bronson Alcott, was an important - though controversial - man in his times and in his community. He is perhaps best known for being a philosopher and an education reformer, but he was also a leader in the Transcendentalist movement as well as a teacher, school superintendent, and an author. He established both the Temple School, in Bosto