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In what seems to be providence, a day after Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty is quoted by an English daily saying that Little Women should be included in school textbooks, here we are celebrating its author’s 184th birth anniversary. And there’s a lovely Google Doodle paying a tribute to Alcott with some of her most well-known characters.
Done by artist Sophie Diao, today’s Doodle portrays the girls from the March family – Beth, Jo, Amy and Meg – as well as Jo’s best friend Laurie, their neighbour (who later goes on to marry Amy) from Alcott’s semi-autobiographical book Little Women. The March family was based on Alcott’s own, and the coltish Jo was the author’s vision of herself: strewing manuscript pages in her wake, charging ahead with the courage of her convictions and cherishing her family above all.
The Doodle can be seen across several countries like the US, France, Italy, Kazakhstan, Australia, India, among others.
Alcott, born in 1832 in Pennsylvania, was not only an iconic author but also a suffragist, abolitionist and feminist. Her contemporaries were luminaries such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau, who fostered in her a strong sense of civic duty. During the American Civil War, Alcott volunteered as a nurse and her family’s home was a station on the Underground Railroad.
She was became the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts. Through her lifetime, she wrote several novels and short stories. The Little Women series includes Good Wives (the second half of the book), Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Her other works included An Old-Fashioned Girl, Eight Cousins and Under the Lilacs, among many others – some even written under the nom de plume AM Barnard – but none of them gained the kind of fan following as Little Women.
Alcott suffered chronic health problems in her later years, and died of a stroke at the age of 55 in Boston.