Louisa May Alcott at South Orange Library Today!

By mark-slade March 27, 2011

Louisa May Alcott at South Orange Library

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The woman behind Little Women is Sunday’s topic at the South Orange Public Library on Sunday, March 27.
Outspoken tomboy Jo, or free-thinking feminist and dedicated writer? Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888), author of more than 20 books, was both and more.
Though she is remembered for Little Women, which borrowed heavily from her childhood and in which she characterized herself as “Jo,” Alcott wrote lurid tales for adults, and stories just this side of nineteenth-century propriety – as well as working as a domestic, laboring as a Civil War nurse, and raising her niece.
The South Orange Public Library presents an afternoon of Louisa May Alcott, as part of Women’s History Month celebrations. The film, “The Woman Behind Little Women,” will be shown on March 27, at 2:30. A lively discussion led by Marcia Worth will follow. The Children’s Room will celebrate Alcott with crafts and a read-aloud at the same time.
Little Women and its sequels, Good Wives, Little Men and Jo’s Boys, were beloved bestsellers in their day. Those books made Alcott the J. K. Rowling of her day, in terms of fame, fortune, and vast readership that waited anxiously for her work.
However, Alcott was more than “the children’s friend,” as publicity materials described her. She had an extraordinary childhood herself, taught by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, while living in abject poverty. And she was her father’s daughter, born on transcendentalist thinker and educator Bronson’s Alcott’s birthday. His influence on her life and work – he read and corrected her journals – was such that when he died, she survived only hours more.
Louisa May Alcott, credited by writers as diverse as Gwendolen Brooks and Rowling as a major influence, is worth another look as we mark women’s history month. Alcott, who changed children’s reading forever, is not just “Jo” anymore.