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By Joseph Glantz


Louisa May Alcott
​Louisa May Alcott was born in 1832 in Germantown, Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia, birthplace to the nation. She spent most of her life in Concord Massachusetts. Her experiences with her three sisters helped form her writing as a novelist, particularly for her classic, Little Women. Her experiences at a school she founded with her husband were the basis for another novel, Little Men. She was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, which was home to one of the inaugural battles of the American Revolution. She died in 1888.

So you lived in a time where the opportunities for women were limited. How did you manage?
Help one another is part of the religion of our sisterhood. (Unsourced)

And how did you respond when men said you should stay home and take care of the house?
Housekeeping ain't no joke. (Little Women; Ch. 11: Experiments)

And in a more serious vein?
I believe that it is as much a right and duty for women to do something with their lives as for men and we are not going to be satisfied with such frivolous parts as you give us. (Unsourced)

More seriously still?
Resolve to take fate by the throat and shake a living out of her. (Unsourced)

And what of this talk, still, in the 21st century that women can’t be wives and professionals?
I love my gallant captain with all my heart and soul and might, and never will desert him, while God lets us be together. Oh, Mother, I never knew how much like heaven this world could be, when two people love and live for one another! (Little Women; Ch. 42: All Alone)

Even in old age?
Love is a great beautifier. (Little Women; Ch. 24: Gossip)

What did/do you look for in a friend?
"Stay" is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary. (Unsourced)

Anything else?
Simple, sincere people seldom speak much of their piety. It shows itself in acts rather than in words, and has more influence than homilies or protestations. (Unsourced)

Jane Austen was into hats. What did you think of Jane?
She had a womanly instinct that clothes possess an influence more powerful over many than the worth of character or the magic of manners. (Little Women: Ch. 34: Friend)

OK. I might disagree a little. I think Jane was into manners too. George Bernard Shaw wrote Pygmalion (later turned into My Fair Lady). Do you think George ever read your writings?

Girls are so queer you never know what they mean. They say no when they mean yes, and drive a man out of his wits just for the fun of it. (Little Women: Ch. 35: Heartache)

So let’s try your views on politics. Would you say you’re a liberal?
I don't think it's fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all (Little Women)

Any conservative leanings?
I like to help women help themselves, as that is, in my opinion, the best way to settle the woman. (Unsourced)

Politicians in general?
I asked for bread, and I got a stone in the shape of a pedestal (Unsourced)

Why doesn’t bipartisanship work?
Many argue; not many converse. (Unsourced)

A lot of women are running for political office this year. Any thoughts? Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn't worth ruling. (An Old-Fashioned Girl (1870); Ch. 13: The Sunny Side)

And what’s the key difficulty they’ll face?
When women are the advisers, the lords of creation don't take the advice till they have persuaded themselves that it is just what they intended to do. Then they act upon it, and, if it succeeds, they give the weaker vessel half the credit of it. If it fails, they generously give her the whole. (Little Women; Ch. 41: Learning To Forget)

Let’s try a different take on success. How did you feel after Little Women was published?
Now I’m beginning to live a little and feel less like a sick oyster at low tide. (Unsourced)

Any problems with the success of Little Women? Any pitfalls?
Now we are expected to be as wise as men who have had generations of all the help there is, and we scarcely anything.

Any advice for the people in the region?
I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship. (Lessons from Mom: A Tribute to Loving Wisdom (1996) by Joan Aho Ryan – quoted)

I’d like to get your spin on current American culture. How do you see the chances of winning American Idol?
If people really want to go, and really try all their lives, I think they will get in; for I don’t believe there are any locks on that door, or any guards at the gate (Little Women; Ch. 13: Castles In The Air)

Is their fame fleeting?
It takes people a long time to learn the difference between talent and genius, especially ambitious young men and women. (Little Women; Ch. 22: Artistic Attempts)

And how did you approach dying?
Love is the only thing that we can carry with us when we go, and it makes the end so easy. (Little Women; Ch. 40: The Valley of The Shadow)

Are you enjoying the afterworld?
Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead. (Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book (1923) – quoted)

Copyright 2016 Joseph Glantz