Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) which was published in 1868 and 1869. Alcott wrote the book over several months at the request of her publisher. Following the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy—the novel details their passage from childhood to womanhood and is loosely based on the lives of the author and her three sisters.202 Scholars classify Little Women as an autobiographical or semi-autobiographical novel.
Little Women "has been read as a romance or as a quest, or both. It has been read as a family drama that validates virtue over wealth," but also "as a means of escaping that life by women who knew its gender constraints only too well.” According to Sarah Elbert, Alcott created a new form of literature, one that took elements from Romantic children's fiction and combined it with others from sentimental novels, resulting in a totally new format. Elbert argued that within Little Women can be found the first vision of the "All-American girl" and that her various aspects are embodied in the differing March sisters.
The action takes place in the United States, during the American Civil War. In the absence of their father Robert, a northern pastor engaged as chaplain in the conflict, four young sisters from the middle class of society face the difficulties of daily life in this time of war: the reasonable Margaret (nicknamed Meg) , the intrepid Joséphine (nicknamed Jo), the charitable Élisabeth (nicknamed Beth) and the proud Amy. They live in Concord, Massachusetts, with their mother and their loyal servant, Hannah. The once wealthy March family was ruined when Robert March went bankrupt helping a friend in his business. Despite this, she is happy and does not forget to help the poorest of her.