Chapter XI. Experiments

From the LW 150 blog: This is the second of two takes on the chapter, “Experiments.” This is a truly unique insight!

Little Women 150

By Mark Gallagher

Louisa May Alcott was deeply affected by the Fruitlands experiment. While she eventually wrote a satirical history of it, her first published commentary on her father’s failed utopia appears in Chapter 11 of Little Women, “Experiments,” where the March sisters indulge in the “all play, and no work” lifestyle that led to Fruitlands’ failure and the near ruin of Alcott’s family.

The chapter begins on June 1st, the same day Fruitlands was founded in 1843. Meg is relieved of her governess duties for the summer, while Jo is reprieved by a vacationing Aunt March. Deciding that lounging is the preferred course of inaction, all four sisters abandon their domestic duties for a week of personal freedom. Mrs. March consents, “You may try your experiment for a week, and see how you like it. I think by Saturday night you will find that all play, and no…

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Book Review: Louisa May Alcott Her Girlhood Diary

Since a children's biography (The Story of Louisa May Alcott by Joan Howard) introduced me to Louisa, I have a special fondness for children's books on the subject. During a recent trip to the Worcester Public Library, I discovered Louisa May Alcott Her Girlhood Diary, edited by Cary Ryan with illustrations by Mark Graham. It …

Louisa’s ode to her cat could be an ode to mine

I was flipping through Harriet Reisen's fine book, Louisa May Alcott The Woman Behind Little Women and found this poem by Louisa (on page 112)  that she published in her family's weekly newspaper, The Olive Leaf (the real-life version of The Pickwick Papers in Little Women). It so totally described how I feel about my …