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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Fruitlands and Brook Farm – a closer look

I have two articles I'd like to share with you regarding utopian communities involving the Alcotts. The first is a list, compiled by Alcott scholar Joel Myerson, of the archives at the Fruitlands Museum. You will see that there are several unpublished papers from Abba and Anna along with a list of books the museum …

Sibling rivalry – did “Little Women” spur May on to success?

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A blunt, controversial psychological study of Miss Alcott — Katharine Anthony’s 1937 biography

The 1930s was an interesting time in Alcott scholarship. The year 1932 marked the one hundredth year of Louisa’s birth. 1938 not only marked the 50th anniversary of Louisa and Bronson’s death but also the 70th anniversary of the publication of Little Women. Thus in 1937, two important biographies were released – Odell Shepherd’s Pedlar’s …

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For Moms and their ‘Little Women’

In honor of Mother's Day, I am delighted to present this guest post by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn,  reprinted with permission from NYMetroParents. A two-day trip to Concord, Massachusetts and the home of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, is a great way to commemorate Mother’s Day—or any other time set aside just for the …