From the time it was written back in 1868, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has enchanted young readers, who identify with the realistic and lively personalities of the four March sisters. Growing up as the Civil War rages, Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy face the challenges and difficulties of life—and, sometimes, each other. Francesca Rossi’s wonderful illustrations are perfect for the contemporary audience.
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.”