Louisa May Alcott is the well-known writer of the 1868 classic children’s novel, Little Women, its sequels, and other works for both children and adults, and her story has been told in numerous biographies. Yet Little Women is not based on the stories of one sister but on four, with Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy corresponding to the real-life Alcott sisters: Anna, Louisa, Lizzie, and Amy.
Playing Pilgrims: The Real Little Women tells the stories of all four of the Alcott girls on whom the fiction is based: theatrical Anna, who longed for domestic happiness as a wife and mother but yet never forgot her longing for the stage; Louisa, the writer, who worked at both children’s stories and her ‘blood-and-thunder’ scandalous novels to make money for the ‘pathetic family’ who were living in poverty; Lizzie, the musical girl and the ‘angel in the house’, whose battles with illness were so faithfully recounted in Little Women; and May, the artist, whose flight to Europe to pursue her dreams resulted in both happiness and tragedy. Each of the sisters is a strong and vivid character with her own story to tell.
Told through letters, journals, and the remembrances of friends – including previously unpublished material – Playing Pilgrims follows the trajectory of Little Women with the book’s title, chapter titles, and quotes from the novel underlining the true stories that were often far more exciting, dramatic, and tragic than their fictional counterparts. Playing Pilgrims will finally tell the true stories of all four of the real-life ‘little women’.
Kristina West is a writer and academic living in London, moments away from the site of the school named after Louisa’s father, Bronson Alcott, by his English friends. Her first book, Louisa May Alcott and the Textual Child, was released with Palgrave Macmillan in April 2020; her second book, Reading the Salem Witch Child, was released with Palgrave Macmillan in December 2020. She has also published numerous book chapters, articles, and conference papers on the Alcott family, the American Transcendentalists, the Salem Witch Trials, and children’s literature. She gained her PhD in...
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