The Mother Behind Louisa May Alcott In “Marmee & Louisa”

Marmee & Louisa, a new book by Eve LaPlante.

Marmee & Louisa, a new book by Eve LaPlante.

Behind every strong woman is another strong woman. In the case of Louisa May Alcott, the nineteenth-century writer best known for the classic American novel Little Women, this woman was her mother, Abigail.

Brookline resident Eve LaPlante is the great-niece of Abigail May Alcott and cousin to Louisa. Her new book, Marmee & Louisa, tells the story of the co-dependent, mother-daughter relationship that shaped both women into the witty, politically-active, progressive thinkers and writers that they were.

In a collection of letters, journal entries and writings by Abigail May Alcott titled My Heart is Boundless, Abigail laments that she wished the women of Boston “displayed more brain and less jewelry.”  According to LaPlante, Abigail considered herself to be a “beast of burden,” and in turn, Louisa referred to women of her time as  the “white slaves of America.” Throughout their lives, both women sought to achieve a more independent, significant status for women in society.

Despite the encouragement the Alcott daughters received from Abigail to live independently, Louisa never married and never left her mother’s side. She wrote after her mother’s death,  “There’s no reason for me to go on now. I have no more purpose.”


  • Eve LaPlante, author of Marmee & Louisa and the great-niece of Abigail May Alcott


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