Seeking Inspiration : Louisa May Alcott
This post is part of a series on JustB profiling women who inspire, motivate and challenge us.
These posts are supported by Seek Learning
It was my birthday. I was 10 years old. Among the brightly wrapped presents was a brand-new book – my favourite kind of gift. Tan-coloured, it had four dreamy faces on the cover, all staring out a picture window. The blurb on the back didn’t explain much, so I decided to read a chapter a night for the next few weeks, not knowing how deeply I was about to fall in love with the words I held in my hands.
My favourite inspiring lady: Louisa May Alcott
Her work: Writing
Where she lived: Orchard House, Concord, Massachusetts
The quality I love most about this person: Her desire to break free of traditional roles for women in the 1800s, and make a living doing what she loved.
Notable achievements: Louisa is the author of Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys. Early in her career, she often had her work published by submitting it under a male-sounding nom de plume. An abolitionist, Louisa and her family served as station-masters of the Underground Railroad, and even hid a fugitive slave for a week on his quest for freedom. A feminist, she widely supported the suffragette movement and campaigned for the right of women to vote.
Something good that she’s said: “Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”
My takeaway from Louisa: Damn the man, carve your own path. Never stop trying to be a better person.
From the humble beginnings of Little Women, when four excited young sisters are trying their best to be grateful for the small Christmas gifts they have been given, rather than the pretty things they’d prefer; to the very last page when their family is back together after the hardships of war and they’ve learned and grown into early womanhood, I was captivated.
Based on her own experiences growing up as one of four sisters, Louisa May Alcott created a beautiful coming-of-age novel, clearly defining each character and encapsulating 19th century American domestic life against the backdrop of the Civil War. The character she based on herself, Jo, is a free-spirited, obstinate and wildly passionate girl who rebels against the genteel constraints of the times, and stays true to herself despite quite often finding herself a position to settle for society’s expected role.
Louisa died unmarried and childless at the age of 55, but with a legacy of written work behind her. Coming from a poor family, finding work to help contribute was a great necessity from an early age. With stints as a governess, seamstress, domestic helper and teacher, it was her career as a novelist she loved and cultivated the most.
During the war, she worked as a nurse and chronicled her time as a nursemaid in the book Hospital Sketches, which was published in The Commonwealth, a Boston anti-slavery newspaper. It was the first of many critically acclaimed novels, and Louisa was considered to be part of a group of female authors writing about women’s issues in a modern and candid manner in the years after the war.
Her themes of female characters finding inner strength through hardship, and finding personal success through career and without marriage, were popular ones, providing heroines for young women to look up to. She certainly had a profound impact on me, and I have read Little Women every year since that fateful day it landed in my lap. It reminds me of all that is good in the world, and if I’ve lost my way, it resets my compass. And it reminds me to always follow my heart rather than submit to the expectations of society and authority.
Five more women I admire:
Are you a fan of Louisa May Alcott or Little Women?
Which women would you put on your ‘inspiring’ list?
source : Louisa May Alcott image