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Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott, born Nov. 29, 1832, was educated by her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, until 1848. Alcott studied informally with several well known family friends such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Theodore Parker. Alcott worked as a domestic servant and teacher in Boston and Concord, Mass., to help support her family from the age of 18 to 30. When the Civil War broke out, she went to Washington D.C., to work as a nurse.

Alcott was 19 when she published her first works under the pen name Flora Fairfield. In 1862, she adopted the name A.M. Barnard to publish her melodramas, some of which were performed on Boston stages. It was during the Civil War that Alcott decided to become a serious writer and began to publish stories under her real name in Atlantic Monthly and Lady’s Companion.

Little Women, Alcott’s most well known work, was published in 1869-70, and gave Alcott financial independence. Little Women was adapted as a musical in 2005 at the Virginia Theatre. The original cast starred Sutton Foster, Maureen McGovern and Janet Caroll. The creators of the musical chose to include excerpts of Jo’s operatic tragedy to create a contrast between Jo’s literary dreams and her much more grounded life in Concord. The musical received several award nominations such as Sutton Foster as Jo for Best Actress in a Musical and the the Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Orchestrations.

                  — Erika Byler, dramaturg