The Alcotts vs. The March Family
Along with our study of the Civil War in history, we chose to read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott since it takes place during the same time. I would recommend this book because the story is kind of sweet.
After finishing the book, I chose to learn more about the real Alcott sisters, whom Louisa based the March sisters on, this is what I learned.
Meg is based on the oldest sister Anna. The similarities between them are, that they were both talented actresses, both Meg and Anna resigned themselves to marriage and motherhood. They both married men named John and loved beautiful things. The differences are that Anna married her c0-star in a play, John Pratt, while Meg married Laurie's tutor. Anna was plain in real life, but Meg is described as beautiful. Anna married at age 29 and had two boys, while Meg married in her early 20's and had boy girl twins.
Jo is based on the author herself, Louisa. Both Jo and Louisa were tomboyish, were tempestuous with a wild nature and loved the theater. Louisa took theater very seriously, while for Jo it was a childhood activity. In the book, Jo was friends with her neighbor Laurie, but in real life Louisa had crushes on two neighbors, authors Henry David Thorough and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Louisa worked as a Civil War nurse, while Jo was still a child during the Civil War. In the book, Jo sold her hair so her mother could afford to visit her sick father, but in real life Louisa's hair fell out when she was sick with typhus. In real life the Alcott family moved 30 times living in Hillside House during Louisa's teen years. The March family had one home, Orchard House, which is where the girls lived during their teen years. Louisa was able to live independently in New York, but when Jo left home, she was supervised in Boston. One interesting fact is that Louisa wrote Little Women in just ten weeks.
The character of Beth is based on Louisa's sister Elisabeth. They both have the same name, but different nicknames, Elisabeth Alcott went by Lizzie, and Elisabeth March went by Beth. Both the character and real person got scarlet fever while caring for a sick German family which weakened them afterwards. Both Beth and Lizzie loved music and wanted to stay at home to live into their adulthood. Lizzie died at age 23, while Beth died at 19.
Last but not least is Amy. Amy is based on Louisa's youngest sister May. You may notice, that Louisa used the same letters for her character, just switched them around. They were both talented artists, but May had to work hard at it, while things came more easily to Amy. They both attracted benefactors, and were graceful and poised at a young age. Both Amy and May became professional artists, and May illustrated the first edition of Little Women. May married a tobacco merchant at age 37, not Amy's boy next door whom she married in her early 20's. May gave free art lessons to others while Amy was somewhat self centered and vain. May died at age 39 after giving birth to her daughter Lulu, while Amy was the happy benevolent mother of Bess.