The third work in Louisa May Alcott’s quartet of Little Women books, Little Men picks up the narrative after the end of Good Wives and follows Jo’s progress in life. After her marriage to Professor Friedrich Bhaer, Jo uses the money from her inheritance from Aunt March to set up a school at Plumfield. Their latest arrival is Nat Blake, a timid orphan boy whose life so far has been spent playing the violin to make money on the streets. Nat joins the ten other children at the school – a gang made up of neglected children, orphans and also Meg’s twin boy and girl. The touching friendship and camaraderie between the group is expertly described. The peaceful equilibrium of the school is troubled though when Nat introduces Dan to the mix; the latter then leads the boys into experimenting with drinking, smoking, fighting and playing cards. Moving and poignant, Little Men is far from saccharine and emotions run high throughout, particularly with the death of a prominent character towards the end of the tale. Part of a series of books much loved, adapted and imitated, this tale is brought back to a new audience in Hesperus’s new editions of Louisa May Alcott titles.
About the Author
Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832 in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Her father was a transcendentalist and teacher, who was acquainted with Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Fuller among others. Louisa had three sisters, and her experiences with them, formed the basis for the plot of Little Women. Her father was a perfectionist and an extremely strict parent, which often led to conflict. In 1840, the family moved to Concord, Massachusetts, but continued to live in poverty, forcing Louisa to work to support the family as a seamstress, maid and finally writer. As she grew older, Louisa became an anti-slavery advocate and a member of the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War, she served as a nurse in Washington, D. C. Writing under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard, her novels began to make money. Finally, she wrote Little Women and its two sequels which cemented her fame, all of them, based upon her own life. Alcott remained single her entire life, openly stating her love for women, and being an advocate for women’s issues. During her life, she suffered from vertigo, typhoid fever, mercury poisoning and possibly lupus. She died from a stroke on March 6, 1888, at the age of 55, in Boston, two days after her father. She is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, on “Author’s Ridge,” with Emerson, Thoreau and Hawthorne.