Following up on Jillian’s post, I thought it would be fun to look back on journal entries that Louisa made that directly correlate with Little Women. I found these in Little Women (Norton Critical Edition) edited by Gregory Eiselein and Anne K. Phillips; the page citations come from this book. Note the comments Louisa makes after some of the entries.
I am in the garret with my papers round me, and a pile of apples to eat while I write my journal, plan stories, and enjoy the patter of rain on the roof, in peace and quiet.
[ Jo in the garret. — L.M.A.] p. 411
Made plans to go to Boston for the winter, as there is nothing to do here, and there I can support myself and help the family. C. [William Warland Clapp, editor of the Saturday Evening Gazette – he paid Louisa ten dollars for “The Rival Prima Donnas” and published several other stories] offers 10 dollars a month, and perhaps more. L. W., M. S., and others, have plenty of sewing; the play may come out*, and Mrs. R. Will give me a sky-parlor for $3 a week, with fire and board. I can sew for her also.
If I can get A. L. to governess I shall be all right.
I was born with a boy’s spirit under my bib and tucker. I can’t wait when I can work; so I took my little talent in my hand and forced the world again, braver than before and wiser for my failures.
[Jo in N. Y. — L. M. A.] p. 411
*Louisa was supposed to have a play produced for the stage in Boston (I believe it was “The Rival Prima Donnas” but the producer died suddenly).
Father saw Mr. Niles about a fairy book. Mr. N. Wants a girls’ story, and I begin “Little Women.” Marmee, Anna, and May all approve my plan. So I plod away, though I don’t enjoy this sort of thing. Never liked girls or knew many, except my sisters; but our queer plays and experiences may prove interesting, though I doubt it.
[Good joke. — L. M. A.] p. 413
Roberts Bros. made an offer for the story, but at the same time advised me to keep the copyright; so I shall.
[An honest publisher and a lucky author, for the copyright made her fortune, and the “dull book” was the first golden egg ofnthe ugly duckling. 1885. — L. M. A.] p. 413
August 26, 1868
Proof of whole book came. It reads better than I expected. Not a bit sensational, but simple and true, for we really lived most of it; and if it succeeds that will be the reason for it. Mr. N. likes it better now, and says some girls who have read the manuscripts say it is “splendid!” As it is for them, they are the best critics, so I should be satisfied. p. 413
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