Monadnock Moments No. 73: Little Women of Walpole
A young woman named Louisa moved to Walpole, New Hampshire with her parents and three sisters in about 1850. It seems that Louisa’s father, a philosopher and teacher, was somewhat down on his luck financially and the family came to Walpole to stay with relatives. Young Louisa was about eighteen when they moved to Walpole, living with her aunt in Walpole village part-time for several years.
During her years in Walpole young Louisa spent much of her time helping with family work and working part-time as a seamstress. She and her sisters acted in a local theater and Louisa took long walks about the village. Louisa also enjoyed writing and spent her spare time writing stories. A few of her stories were good enough for publication and she began to earn a little extra income. After leaving Walpole, Louisa worked as a teacher and later became a volunteer nurse during the Civil War. In 1863 she wrote sketches of her experiences as a nurse. These were published and attracted considerable attention. In 1867 Louisa wrote a story that was partially based upon her experiences in Walpole as a young woman. A local resident later stated that the story was a most accurate sketch of Louisa’s early life in Walpole.
The story was published in 1868 and was an immediate success, selling 87,000 copies in three years. Louisa was soon famous and wealthy because of this story with some of its elements drawn from her days in Cheshire County. Our young Louisa was Louisa May Alcott, and her story, entitled Little Women, is now known to millions of young people around the world.