Monday, April 1, 2019

A to Z: Letters to Dead Writers: Louisa May Alcott

This month I'm writing one post for each letter of the alphabet, all on the theme of "Letters to Dead Writers." You can see my theme reveal post here and learn more about the blogging challenge here.

Today's writer is Louisa May Alcott.

Dear Ms. Alcott,

I'm sure you hear this all the time, but you are part of why I am a writer today.

I'm not sure how old I was when I read Little Women, but I was certainly young enough to be very impressionable. Like many a bookish girl who didn't want to be held to stereotypical expectations for women, I fell in love with Jo March.

Jo wasn't the good sister, but she was the most interesting one. She was passionate and loyal and fierce and all the things I felt in my heart even when I was afraid to express them. And she wrote stories!

Sometime later, I learned that you didn't really want to write Little Women, but had been pressured into doing so by your publisher. It's interesting because there's so much of your life in it, paralleling some of your family history. There's some evidence that Jo is lot like you, too. 

I read everything I could find of yours when I was a kid. I felt like you understood me and my life. Like you, I grew up in "genteel poverty"among loving but financially poor people who believed in that hard work and dedication would pay off.  People who valued kindness and family and love, as well as books and creativity.

Even though I studied Emerson and Thoreau in high school literature courses, I didn't put together that you and your family were part of that same set until I was in grad school, and took a bit of a literary tour of New England on my way to my summer program at Middlebury College. My mother and I toured your family home and farm and I bought a biography of you that I still treasure.

You really were a woman ahead of your time. An abolitionist, a feminist, an activist. You wrote under a pseudonym to protect the secret of your gender. I'm so glad you did!

Thank you,
With Love and Admiration,


  1. Great opening to the challenge.

  2. Great letter!
    I too loved Jo when I was a kid. As you said, probably most of us girl who wanted to write did. And isn't it remarcable that in spite of the time, we still identify with this young woman?

  3. I don't really remember Little Women particularly well, though I'm sure I read it. I'm looking forward to seeing who all your different letters are to! (This is probably in the theme reveal post, but I'd rather be surprised).

  4. I also loved Little Women! I saw the movie with Katherine Hepburn as Jo long before I read the book, though. I adored Jo's drive to write, but otherwise I honestly identified more with Beth.

  5. Louisa May Alcott was a true shero for women!

  6. Replies
    1. I did know she'd been a nurse, but not many details. Thanks for the book suggestion!