Louisa May Alcott

My daughter brought home a book from her school library on the life of Louisa May Alcott. She’s only 8, so I read the book out loud to her.

In the book, It’s mentioned the she never wanted to get married, and for that reason, her character Jo would never marry. The book also mentions that Louisa was a tomboy a number of times.

Towards the end of the book, it says that she burned some of her mother’s papers and some of her own journal because she wanted to keep certain aspects of her life private.

I looked on the web, but I couldn’t seem to find an answer, was Louisa May Alcott a lesbian ?


I thought Jo married the German teacher. Allcott also wrote a book about Jo’s sons, titled * Jo’s Boys. *

As for Allcott being a lesbian, I’m not sure, but some well-educated women chose not to marry in this time, especially if they had their own source of income. Remember that marriage meant belonging to your husband in every sense of the word, and all of your money belonged to him to do with as he pleased. Perhaps Allcott wished to be independant, and remaining unmarried would be the only way.

Letters from the Victorian era often had what we would consider lesbian overtones, but weren’t homosexual in the strictest sense. Women had “passionate” friendships with other women, and at the time, writing “love letters” to other women was perfectly socially acceptable, as were hand-holding and kisses.

The reason why Allcott burned the papers may have had nothing at all to do with concealing a lesbian relationship. As a famous woman, she would have wanted to keep certain aspects of her life private, such as letters from friends who confessed personal problems they would not want publicized. Often, the letters of famous women were published, and Allcott may have wanted to avoid any potentially embarassing material about her friends coming to light. The same applies to her journal. She may have written about petty jealousies, secret heartaches, gossip, and in the heat of anger, may have written unkind things about people that she would not want published. A lesbian love affair would not be the only embarassing thing that would make a person want to destroy their journal . . . would you want your diary published?

Jo did marry the German professor. I loved the way his character was described in the book and found him more interesting than Laurence or John. Twenty-five years later I met a widower on a BBS. He sent a picture – and there he was, my German professor! We’ve been married 17 years.

If you are ever in Concord, MA, the Alcott home is open to visitors. It is fascinating!

Meanwhile, I think that I will destroy my old journals and diaries. I won’t want my grandchildren to know how boy-crazy I was.

Jo was the last to marry, and married the German teacher. I think she later had at least a couple of boys and was a teacher in a boys’ school she ran with her husband.

That’s right ! Jo did marry, I read the book so long ago, I had forgotten.

Well, the was just what the book said.:rolleyes:

Well…this site says that Alcott was a lesbian:

This one says she was down-right evil!:

Seriously though, I agree with Lissa, both men and women of Alcott’s time expressed deep affection in ways people of today might consider homosexual. I was not able to link her with a partner, male or female.

If you drop “louisa may alcott lesbian” into Google, you come up with one or two hits. (You actually get a lot of hits, but most are irrelevant.) In only one case did I find a claim that Ms. Alcott was lesbian, but it was merely an assertion that assumed its truth with providing any support.

This site makes the unsupported assertion, twice. It is an advocacy page for “hidden” GLBT people of the past and simply assumes that its claim is true.

This site is a brief overview of feminist literature in which the reference to Alcott is placed between two other discussions of the issues surrounding lesians, but it does not directly claim that she was, herself, lesbian.

This site provides a brief biography-cum-bibliography of Alcott, without mentioning any aspect of her sexuality. It may or may or may not be notable that the series of which it is a part is attempting to “redress an historical under-representation of women and marginalized minorities, including gay and lesbian writers.” (While they are looking to highlight gay and lesbian writers, they make no mention of Alcott’s purported orientation.)

Prior to the current interest in examining the sexuality of various authors, Alcott’s “failure” to marry was generally attributed to the fact that her writings became the primary source of income for her extended family and that she had no time to entertain romance. ::: shrug ::: I have no idea what her orientation was or whether she was simply a person for whom sex and/or romance were not particularly important–or whether her family really did chain her to her writing desk despite her personal inclinations.

Never to be Queen, the Balaam’s Ass site is the same site that excoriates C.S. Lewis for being one of the most efficient proponents of Satan’s work in the world. I only go there for giggles. Those people are loons.

This was not really true in Massachusetts in Alcott’s day. Property (including copyrights) owned by each party before the marriage remained separate from marital property, as it does today. As for income earned during marriage, a husband’s income was as much open to use by the wife as a wife’s income was by a husband. The law was impartial on this matter.

I was not aware of how progressive Massachusetts law was at this time. (One tends to read of the bad conditions, and not of the good.) Thanks for the info!

Tomndebb, just thought I would share. :wink:

Louisa May Alcott lived to be about 56.
Her father Bronson Alcott was a philosopher & transcendentalist who tried all kinds of occupations & experiements.
He has been noted in the annals of history for beginning a progressive children’s school in the 1830s that failed after he allowed integration.
He did not provide for his family of six well & they suffered extreme poverty when Louisa was a child.

Supposedly, in time Louisa May Alcott supported her entire family with her writing.
She contracted typhoid fever at the age of 30 & suffered ill effects from it the rest of her life.
She kept extensive journals of her life & many, if not all, published in Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals. When she began Little Women she wrote:
“Marmee [Alcott’s mother], Anna, and May all approve my plan. So I plod away, though I don’t enjoy this sort of thing. Never liked girls or knew many, other than my sisters; but our queer plays and experiences might be interesting, though I doubt it.”
She was legal guardian to her youngest sister’s child & later adopted her oldest sister’s son.
“Alcott herself was never married, once remarking that writing seemed to be her intended companion for life.”
Gale Group - Contemporary Authors series

According to Gale’s Dictionary of Literary Biography Alcott based the character of Laurie in Little Women & Little Men on a Polish youth, whom she met while on a trip to Europe in 1865.

I read books on her life when I was a kid & I don’t recall ever reading that she had a love affair of any kind. It sounded like she was a real workhorse for her family.

i just looked at the balaam’s ass site. Man! she looks like a real babe!

Jane Austen was another one who never married, but I don’t think she was a lesbian.

Whoa-that Balaam’s Ass site is unbelievable! It makes Ladies Against Feminism look like Gloria Steinem!

I have another question. When I was a kid I had a book of strange facts it claimed that Louise M. Alcott one of children’s favourite writers, actually hated them. Is it true’?