Step off the beaten path to follow in the footsteps of an influential American writer who lived in a small New England town with a reputation for creative inspiration and sylvan splendor.
For those who grew up reading about Marmee and the March sisters, Orchard House holds a special kind of wonderment. This modest abode in Concord, Massachusetts, was home to author Louisa May Alcott and her family from 1858 to 1877. From a small, half-moon-shaped desk in her upstairs bedroom, she wrote Little Women. Though the account is fictional, she drew heavily from personal experience and used this house as the setting for her story.
On a guided tour, visitors venture from room to room, learning about the Alcott family and their life in Concord. While poor in accordance with monetary standards, they were rich in community, often spending time with their neighbors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, fellow authors who shared their interest in education, art, faith, and social reform.
With each turn of the corner inside this clapboard farmhouse, the wallpaper and family portraits, trinkets, and teacups bring pages of Alcott’s breakthrough novel to life; simultaneously, they tell of the woman behind the prose. Heartache and hardship were indeed part of her life’s narrative, yet she poured out her contemplations with imagination, pen, and paper.
Over the course of her life, Louisa May Alcott was a teacher, governess, seamstress, abolitionist, feminist, nurse, and adoptive mother. Today, her legacy lives on at Orchard House through tours, writing workshops, educational programs, and community events, as well as through the literary works that continue to inspire fans of all ages.
Text Andrea Fanning
Photography Mac Jamieson
Visit the Victoria Classics Book Club for more resources for our inaugural selection, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. To learn more about renowned authors from this area, see “The Concord Literary Trail” in the October 2018 issue, available on newsstands and online.