Little Women Legacy: Alcott, the Environment, and Real-Life Heroes

I loved reading about the intersection of science and environmental writing with Alcott’s feminist activism, grounded in love.

In this blog post series, we’ve featured contributing authors from our anthology, Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes: The Little Women Legacy. In this post, we’ll share some final thoughts from Julie Dunlap, ecologist, teacher and writer.

Dunlap

Contributor Julie Dunlap reads Little Women in Old Ellicott City, Maryland.


Little Women teems with uncomfortable truths. Hardworking families can fall into poverty; loving care cannot forestall death; a country founded on shared ideals can descend into war. Amy March resists the shape of her own nose, but Jo’s determination to front realities is at the core of her appeal, and at the heart of the novel.

Jo March’s rectitude in the face of a society pitched against women has made her a feminist icon for 150 years. Though Alcott preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, since girlhood I’ve admired Louisa’s quest to surmount social barriers to become an author. As a teen aspiring to work…

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