Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), novelist
Orchard House c. 1865 with Alcotts in front of house
Photographs courtesy of the Louisa May Alcott Memorial Association
Louisa May Alcott lived in Orchard House, with her family between 1858 and 1877. It is believed she wrote much of her most famous novel, Little Women, (published in 2 volumes, 1868-69), in this house. Little Women is the first novel to have a juvenile female lead character that closely resembled the girls reading the novel, and that was based upon idealized stereotypes. The characters of Jo, Amy, Beth, Meg, and Marmee were based on her family. Louisa May's father, Amos Bronson Alcott, was a teacher and transcendental philosopher. He was also a bit of a dreamer and it fell to Abigail May Alcott (1800-1877), Louisa May's mother, to run the family and keep a roof over their heads by taking menial jobs. This had a profound effect on the four Alcott girls particularly Louisa May, who as a young woman took it upon herself to become a breadwinner by working as a seamstress, teacher, companion, and governess. Louisa May's need to earn money for her family led her to write quick selling 19th-century thrillers (then known as pot boilers), poems and fairy tales. By the 1860's Louisa May's stories and poems were appearing in Atlantic Monthly magazine, and her published works eventually exceeded 270 items. Visitors will see the two and a half story frame and clapboard house much as it was while the Alcott's lived there, including many of the family's furnishings.
The Orchard House, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 399 Lexington Road in Concord, MA. The house is open for tours year round. For more information, call 978-369-4118, or click here for more information.
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