Little Men, or Life at Plumfield with Jo’s Boys, was first published in 1871. The novel reprises characters from Little Women and is considered by some the second book in an unofficial Little Women trilogy, which is completed with Alcott’s 1886 novel Jo’s Boys. This book tells the story of Jo Bhaer and the children at Plumfield Estate School. It was inspired by the death of Alcott’s brother-in-law. It has been adapted to film and television.
Louisa May Alcott, born in 1832, was the second child of Bronson Alcott of Concord, Massachusetts, a self-taught philosopher, school reformer, and utopian who was much too immersed in the world of ideas to ever succeed in supporting his family. That task fell to his wife and later to his enterprising daughter Louisa May. While her father lectured, wrote, and conversed with such famous friends as Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, Louisa taught school, worked as a seamstress and nurse, took in laundry, and even hired herself out as a domestic servant at age nineteen. The small sums she earned often kept the family from complete destitution, but it was through her writing that she finally brought them financial independence. “I will make a battering-ram of my head,” she wrote in her journal, “and make a way through this rough-and-tumble world.”