Did you know Little Women begins at Christmastime, with silver moons and lamp-smoke, cakes and hot-house flowers?
Yes, there is Yuletide magic even amid the poverty the March sisters endured during the strife of the Civil War. But Little Women is not only about one family’s struggles, it is about the empowerment of women and girls around the world.
For, Jo March was modeled after Louisa herself, with her literary ambition and independent spirit. How glorious! Not only did Louisa write about a girl who overcame hardship and made her dream come true—she herself lived the same such tale.
Louisa May Alcott was born on November 19, 1832, and grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, with her three sisters.
Her parents were progressive thinkers and Louisa was acquainted with many important people in history, like Harriet Tubman and Henry David Thoreau.
Still, the family was in much need, and Louisa set out to work at an early age to help support them. There weren’t many jobs available to women then, and none of her jobs paid well. Louisa worked as a companion to invalids, as a maid, and seamstress. One year her younger sister died and her older sister got married. Louisa’s sisterhood felt broken, but she soldiered on.
In 1862 Louisa went to Washington, D.C., to work as a Civil War nurse, where she became ill with typhoid fever. Every dark cloud surely has its silver shine, for Louisa’s letters home about the hospital were published and earned her great recognition. She was then able to make a living writing novels under the nom de plume A.M. Barnard.
At age 36 Louisa began writing Little Women, modelling the most inspiring character in the book, Jo March, after herself. Jo was an unconventional free spirit, described in the story as "strong and wild". She spoke her mind and went where she pleased; she was a reader, and yearned to be a writer. In the end, Louisa and Jo both became the writers they always dreamed of becoming.
You see, Louisa May Alcott knew a deep seeded truth: in life, we must write our own stories, and we must write the stories we want to see in the world.
Louisa once said, "We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.”
As the new year approaches, let us resolve to follow our dreams, grant our own wishes, and always believe.