American novelist, feminist and abolitionist Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, has been honoured by a new Google Doodle.
Trailblazing writer Louisa May Alcott’s 184th birthday was marked today (29 November) by a Google Doodle that depicts a scene from her novel Little Women.
Alcott was a famous feminist and abolitionist who honed her writing capabilities during the tumultuous period of the American Civil War.
Alcott grew up in New England among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorn and Henry David Thoreau.
She began to receive critical success for her writing in the 1860s and sometimes wrote under the pen name A M Barnard.
Financial woes propelled Alcott to work as a teacher, seamstress, governess and domestic helper, as well as providing social work services for Irish immigrants.
As a result, writing became a creative and emotional outlet for the young Alcott.
Feminist and abolitionist
Alcott fought for women’s rights, advocated suffrage and became the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts, in a school board election.
In 1860, she first began writing for the The Atlantic Monthly. When the Civil War broke out in America, Alcott served as a nurse before catching typhoid, almost dying. Her observational letters home, which were published in newspapers as Hospital Sketches, brought her recognition.
Her breakthrough novel Little Women was inspired by the Alcott’s family home in Concord, Massachusetts, and follows the lives of four sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy and deals with their passage from childhood to womanhood.
The book has been adapted for film at least six times and four different TV series have been based on Little Women. It has also spawned a musical on broadway, an opera and two anime series in Japan.
With Little Women, Alcott is recognised as having developed a new format combining children’s fiction with romantic, sentimental novels.
Not only that, it has become one of the most widely read novels in the world and is seen as tackling the polarisation of gender roles as social constructs, encouraging women to establish their own public identities.