10 Life Lessons from Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888) imparted wisdom in her fiction as well as in her personal writings and interviews. Best known for Little Women, she conducted her career as a professional determined to profit from her pen.

In her life and writings, Alcott promoted women’s rights and campaigning for women’s suffrage. Her views were espoused by her lead characters, strong young women who wanted more from life than to get married and have babies. She and her family were ardent abolitionists, a view that wasn’t as widely accepted in Massachusetts as one would think.


Louisa admired Charlotte Brontë and longed to gain recognition for her work, much as Brontë had. Though Alcott claimed that her greatest reward was the esteem of the “young folks” who were her readers, she was never modest in her demands to be paid what she felt she was worth, and lived to see her work earn a fortune. Most important to her was to make her family, especially her Marmee, comfortable.

Here’s a sampling of life lessons from Louisa May Alcott, a woman who worked hard and loved her family fiercely, even as she struggled with her health. We can all learn from her!

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“I like to help women help themselves, as that is, in my opinion, the best way to settle the woman question. Whatever we can do and do well we have a right to, and I don’t think any one will deny us.”

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“Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us —and those around us — more effectively. Look for the learning.”

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“Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.”

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“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

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Louisa May Alcott portrait courtesy of LMA Orchard House

See also: How Louisa May Alcott’s Feminism Explains Her Timelessness

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“Conceit spoils the finest genius. There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long; even if it is, the consciousness of possessing and using it well should satisfy one, and the great charm of all power is modesty.”

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“Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth’s sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.”

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“Keep good company, read good books, love good things and cultivate soul and body as faithfully as you can.”

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Louisa May Alcott Quote from Little Women

How Louisa May Alcott Came to Write Little Women

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“Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.”

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“Love is a flower that grows in any soil, works its sweet miracles undaunted by autumn frost or winter snow, blooming fair and fragrant all the year, and blessing those who give and those who receive.”

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“Don’t shut yourself up in a band box because you are a woman, but understand what is going on, and educate yourself to take part in the world’s work, for it all affects you and yours.”

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Louisa May Alcott
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Twelve Great Literary Ladies, Twelve Valuable Lessons for the Writing Life

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