Louisa May Alcott is best known for her novel, Little Women, a novel that is unread by many men purely because of its title. What the men of the world (and most women) don’t know, is the novel is based on her own upbringing,one surrounded by the greatest intellectuals, scholars and writers of American history.

Her parents were transcendentalists, a believe that society and its institutions—particularly organized religion and political parties—corrupt the purity of the individual. They have faith that people are at their best when truly “self-reliant” and independent. Members of this group, including, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau, were incidentally members of the Alcott household.

Born in 1832, Alcott was beyond radical for her time. An abolitionist and a feminist, she remained unmarried throughout her life. In Little Women, Alcott based her heroine “Jo” on herself. But whereas Jo marries at the end of the story, Alcott remained single throughout her life. She explained her “spinsterhood” in an interview with Louise Chandler Moulton, “I am more than half-persuaded that I am a man’s soul put by some freak of nature into a woman’s body … because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man.”

Today, Alcott would be 184 years old. While she is no longer living, her books will continue to surpass all of us. In tribute to her, take a moment and read the most insightful and profound quotes of one of the greatest writers of all time.

“I don’t pretend to be wise, but I am observing, and I see a great deal more than you’d imagine. I’m interested in other people’s experiences and inconsistencies, and, though I can’t explain, I remember and use them for my own benefit.”

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”

“We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.”

“I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now.”

“Let us be elegant or die!”

“Don’t try to make me grow up before my time…”

“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”

“Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us.”

“The emerging woman … will be strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-souled, and strong-bodied…strength and beauty must go together.”

“Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.”

“Love is the only thing that we can carry with us when we go, and it makes the end so easy.”

“I wish I had no heart, it aches so…” ‘

“Life is like college; may I graduate and earn some honors.”

“Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us – and those around us – more effectively. Look for the learning.”

“A quick temper, sharp tongue, and restless spirit were always getting her into scrapes, and her life was a series of ups and downs, which were both comic and pathetic.”

“Nothing is impossible to a determined woman.”

“I am lonely, sometimes, but I dare say it’s good for me…”

“I love my liberty too well to be in a hurry to give it up for any mortal man.”

Lauren Martin
Just another girl in the world...and founder of Words of Women

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