I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
“My book came out; and people began to think that topsy-turvy Louisa
would amount to something after all.”
“Some books are so familiar, that reading them is like being home again.”
“I like good strong words that mean something…”
Louisa May Alcott
This is the great Louisa May Alcott’s birthday; she was born November 29, 1832 and became one of the most beloved and successful authors of her time. Louisa, like her beloved character “Jo March,” was a tomboy who loved to race through the woods. “No boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race,” she once said, “and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences…” She went on nature walks with Henry David Thoreau and often visited her neighbor Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Writing proved to be an early passion for Louisa and as a child, fantastic melodramas sprang from her pen, which she and her sisters acted out for their friends with gusto. At age 15, troubled by her parents’ poverty, she stubbornly vowed: “I will do something by and by. Don’t care what, teach, sew, act, write, anything to help the family; and I’ll be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I won’t!”
Society’s limited views of women’s work didn’t stand a chance in the face of Louisa’s determination: “…I will make a battering ram of my head and make my way through this rough and tumble world.” For years, she did just that, as a teacher, seamstress, household servant — anything she could find to earn a little money.
Enormously tenacious, she launched her career as an author by writing poetry and short stories for popular magazines. In 1854, at the age of 22, she published her first book, “Flower Fables.” When she was 35, her publisher asked Louisa if she could conjure up “a book for girls.” Her response, “Little Women.” was written from May to July 1868. Set in New England during the Civil War, it was based on her own family life.
Jo March, her one-of-a-kind heroine, is widely considered to be the first living, breathing girl to light up the pages of American literature, which was awash in idealized images of childhood. “Little Women” was an instant success and during her career, 30 books and collections of stories poured from her creative and determined pen.
May Louisa’s imagination and persistence be an inspiration to us all as we boldly sail our own ships on a sea of strong words — and write on!
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