Asked to compare Louisa May Alcott’s fictional sisters to her real four, I find that they are inextricable in my mind, as I suspect they were in Louisa’s. That she found it impossible to write of Amy March after the death of May Alcott suggests that to me. I find the beginning of Jo’s Boys almost unbearably touching for its image of Amy March in heaven (“Mount Parnassus”). Little Women led me to Louisa Alcott, of course. It tells a great deal about her, and is her masterpiece, but her works, her life, and her times, are quite different, and much more than that one wonderful novel. I re-read Little Women only once for the book – I needed to read the 23 other books she wrote, not to mention poems, short stories, journals, letters, etc – and so you, dear readers, are undoubtedly more expert than I am on the fine points of the Alcott versus the March sisters. I would love to know how you would flesh out and/or change this chart, esp.
Louisa wrote two stories and an unfinished sketch that turned out to be groundwork for Little Women: “The Sisters’ Trial” (for which she was paid $6), and “A Modern Cinderella” published in The Atlantic (probably for around $50).
To see ways that Louisa was not Jo March, check out this video. It’s less than a minute, and it’s funny.
And here’s my chart, a Wikipedia entry in the making?
About the Author
HARRIET REISEN, a former fellow in screenwriting at the American Film Institute, has written dramatic and historical documentary scripts for PBS and HBO, including the PBS documentary of Louisa May Alcott. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Tony Kahn, and son Andrew Kahn. This is her first book. You can visit her on her on her book’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/alcottbook.
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