Photos: 150 years on, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women still resonates

Updated On Jun 13, 2018 09:52 AM IST

A century and a half before the #MeToo movement gave women a bold, new collective voice, Louisa May Alcott was lending them her own with “Little Women”. Society had far different expectations of women in 1867, when publisher Thomas Niles asked her to write a "girls' story." Since then, the coming-of-age book has been translated into more than 50 languages and made into films, a musical and a recently aired PBS "Masterpiece" miniseries. The novel constantly finds new audiences as women worldwide confront sexual misconduct, misogyny and pay inequity.

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The title page of the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott seen in an 1869 edition of the book at Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts. A century and a half before the #MeToo movement gave women a bold, new collective voice, Alcott was lending them her own. To celebrate the sesquicentennial, Orchard House has lined events, including a conversational series to discuss the book’s modern-day relevance. (Steven Senne / AP)
Updated on Jun 13, 2018 09:52 AM IST

The title page of the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott seen in an 1869 edition of the book at Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts. A century and a half before the #MeToo movement gave women a bold, new collective voice, Alcott was lending them her own. To celebrate the sesquicentennial, Orchard House has lined events, including a conversational series to discuss the book’s modern-day relevance. (Steven Senne / AP)

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A portrait of Louisa May Alcott in 1870. Alcott drew heavily from her experiences living in poverty with progressive parents Bronson and Abigail Alcott and three sisters in Concord. Although her transcendentalist father led his family through 30 homes, Orchard House stands out as the place where Little Women came to life. (Hulton Archive / Getty)
Updated on Jun 13, 2018 09:52 AM IST

A portrait of Louisa May Alcott in 1870. Alcott drew heavily from her experiences living in poverty with progressive parents Bronson and Abigail Alcott and three sisters in Concord. Although her transcendentalist father led his family through 30 homes, Orchard House stands out as the place where Little Women came to life. (Hulton Archive / Getty)

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Alcott was 26 when her family moved into the then dilapidated house in 1858. The family turned the farmhouse into a place where Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and other literary neighbours would drop by for discussions. Looking back, Orchard House Executive Director Jan Turnquist said, the Alcotts were feminists. “They believed all humans have agency.” (Steven Senne / AP)
Updated on Jun 13, 2018 09:52 AM IST

Alcott was 26 when her family moved into the then dilapidated house in 1858. The family turned the farmhouse into a place where Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and other literary neighbours would drop by for discussions. Looking back, Orchard House Executive Director Jan Turnquist said, the Alcotts were feminists. “They believed all humans have agency.” (Steven Senne / AP)

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Alcott was the first woman to register in Concord in 1879 when Massachusetts gave women the right to vote in town elections on education and children’s issues. In a letter to the Woman’s Journal, Alcott wrote: “No bolt fell on our audacious heads, no earthquake shook the town.” At 30, she served as a nurse in the Civil War and travelled alone when most women could not. (Steven Senne / AP)
Updated on Jun 13, 2018 09:52 AM IST

Alcott was the first woman to register in Concord in 1879 when Massachusetts gave women the right to vote in town elections on education and children’s issues. In a letter to the Woman’s Journal, Alcott wrote: “No bolt fell on our audacious heads, no earthquake shook the town.” At 30, she served as a nurse in the Civil War and travelled alone when most women could not. (Steven Senne / AP)

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When publisher Thomas Niles asked Alcott to write a girls’ story in 1867 she began penning down the first part of the book at this desk in Orchard House. At a time when women were mainly confined to domestic chores, Alcott had her doubts about the success of Little Women. The book has since been translated into more than 50 languages and made into films. (Steven Senne / AP)
Updated on Jun 13, 2018 09:52 AM IST

When publisher Thomas Niles asked Alcott to write a girls’ story in 1867 she began penning down the first part of the book at this desk in Orchard House. At a time when women were mainly confined to domestic chores, Alcott had her doubts about the success of Little Women. The book has since been translated into more than 50 languages and made into films. (Steven Senne / AP)

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The book’s opening lines seen in the 1869 edition. After writing the first part, Alcott received letters asking if the main character, Jo March, would marry neighbour Laurie. Alcott historian John Matteson said, Niles asked her to marry Jo off to Laurie. Otherwise, Alcott knew what a trap marriage could be. “She very much intended not to marry Jo at all.” (Steven Senne / AP)
Updated on Jun 13, 2018 09:52 AM IST

The book’s opening lines seen in the 1869 edition. After writing the first part, Alcott received letters asking if the main character, Jo March, would marry neighbour Laurie. Alcott historian John Matteson said, Niles asked her to marry Jo off to Laurie. Otherwise, Alcott knew what a trap marriage could be. “She very much intended not to marry Jo at all.” (Steven Senne / AP)

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Visitors stand by a portrait of Alcott by George Healy. One of Alcott’s goals was to lift her family out of poverty. She took various jobs and was in one instance, a live-in companion for the sick sister of a man named James Richardson who had her spend evenings listening to him reading romantic poetry. He started slipping suggestive notes and gave her back-breaking work as she rejected his advances. (Steven Senne / AP)
Updated on Jun 13, 2018 09:52 AM IST

Visitors stand by a portrait of Alcott by George Healy. One of Alcott’s goals was to lift her family out of poverty. She took various jobs and was in one instance, a live-in companion for the sick sister of a man named James Richardson who had her spend evenings listening to him reading romantic poetry. He started slipping suggestive notes and gave her back-breaking work as she rejected his advances. (Steven Senne / AP)

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A sewing kit belonging to the author rests on a table. While Turnquist hesitated to call the incidents with Richardson, a #MeToo encounter, she said it bordered on sexual harassment. Eventually Alcott quit, making only $4 for the seven-week stay. Alcott wrote an essay on the experience, which James Field, editor of The Atlantic, assessed and said: “Stick to your teaching. You can’t write.” (Steven Senne / AP)
Updated on Jun 13, 2018 09:52 AM IST

A sewing kit belonging to the author rests on a table. While Turnquist hesitated to call the incidents with Richardson, a #MeToo encounter, she said it bordered on sexual harassment. Eventually Alcott quit, making only $4 for the seven-week stay. Alcott wrote an essay on the experience, which James Field, editor of The Atlantic, assessed and said: “Stick to your teaching. You can’t write.” (Steven Senne / AP)

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Nevertheless, Alcott persisted. Mayela Boeder (not pictured), of Wisconsin read the book as a girl and thinks it’s still relevant. “You could say that strong females in literature, TV and every other medium have slowly shaped the minds of modern strong women,” she said. The novel constantly finds new audiences as women worldwide confront sexual misconduct, misogyny and pay inequity. (Steven Senne / AP)
Updated on Jun 13, 2018 09:52 AM IST

Nevertheless, Alcott persisted. Mayela Boeder (not pictured), of Wisconsin read the book as a girl and thinks it’s still relevant. “You could say that strong females in literature, TV and every other medium have slowly shaped the minds of modern strong women,” she said. The novel constantly finds new audiences as women worldwide confront sexual misconduct, misogyny and pay inequity. (Steven Senne / AP)

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