The lasting legacy of Little Women

From the University of North Carolina Press blog:

Barbara Sicherman is author of Well-Read Lives: How Books Inspired a Generation of American Women. In a compelling approach structured as theme and variations, Sicherman offers insightful profiles of a number of accomplished women born in America’s Gilded Age who lost—and found—themselves in books, and worked out a new life purpose around them. She argues that with Little Women‘s Jo March often serving as a youthful model of independence, girls and young women created communities of learning, imagination, and emotional connection around literary activities in ways that helped them imagine, and later attain, public identities.

Barbara Sicherman Well-Read Lives

Today (actually yesterday) is the 180th anniversary of Louisa May Alcott’s birth. To mark the occasion, we welcome a guest post from Sicherman, who discusses how influential Little Women has been to other women writers since its publication.

Click here to read: Barbara Sicherman: The Persistence of Little Women, or Still Timely after All These Years

Does Little Women still speak to you? What impact has it had on your life?

Click to Tweet & ShareDoes Little Women still speak to you? What impact has it had on your life? A scholar shares the legacy

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2 Replies to “The lasting legacy of Little Women”

  1. A lasting legacy, indeed. Thank you for sharing this! My name is Meg, for one thing – and yes, my mother admits I was named after Meg March, but Jo is my favorite. “Little Women” has been such a part of my life that I don’t know how to separate myself from it or its characters, really. My younger (blond) sister always identified herself with Amy, we fought as much as Jo and Amy fought and made up equally well, and she even called our mother Marmee for years. I’m from New England, my family has struggled with poverty and I even have a grumpy grandmother who reminded me so much of Aunt March I should put her in my own novels. Oh, and I write. Yes, I write. I became a Civil War buff and have photographs of myself in 1860’s hoops, looking – well, looking like Jo March. Did I mention Louisa and I are born 150 years apart, on a parent’s birthday (her on her dad’s, me on my mom’s), both got published for the first time at 22, are the same height, and struggle with our tempers? She loved to run, and I ran track in highschool. I had a school friend I nicknamed Normie, much like her Teddy, though he never asked me to marry him. But we were so close that at his funeral a few years ago, his mother said we were like brother and sister. And Jo’s dream of having a magic inkwell that writes amazing stories is … well, divine. I’d love that, too!

    So, yeah. When I read “Little Women,” it’s like reading a version of my own family’s story, something that I wrote, or maybe a past-life version of myself. It makes me cry, it makes me laugh. I call Louisa my writer-angel, who sits on my shoulders and scolds me when I take storytelling too seriously. Then I grab an apple and a book, find a tree to sit beneath … and we meet again in the pages of her story.

    ~ Meg

  2. I love this! What a wonderful connection on so many levels. I have your Daniel’s Garden and a vacation coming up after Christmas where I’ll curl up and read. And I’ll think of the angel on your shoulder when I do. 🙂

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