A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, the home of one of my favorite authors: Louisa May Alcott. You can find their website here. This is the home where she wrote many of her books, including Little Women. The house has been beautifully restored to look the way it would have towards the end of Miss Alcott’s life, when she was a famous and successful author. I was able to take a guided tour of the house, but unfortunately they did not allow photography inside.
In addition to being the home of the Alcott family, this house is the setting for the fictional March family in Little Women. The tour guide told us how the wedding scene in the book where the oldest sister Meg marries John Brooke is a very accurate representation of the wedding of Louisa Alcott’s oldest sister Anna. The first floor windows on the right side belong to the parlor that she was married in. The youngest sister, May Alcott, was an artist (the inspiration for the character Amy.) The real May actually seems to have been more talented than the fictional version, and you can see several of her paintings and drawings if you visit the house. The Alcott parents actively encouraged their daughters to use their talents, which included allowing May to actually draw on the walls of her bedroom and studio and having a writing desk built in Louisa’s room. It is a little desk sitting between two windows, and apparently it was unusual if not unheard of for a woman to have her own writing desk in that time period.
If you happen to be in Concord, this house is a great place to visit. The volunteer docents were very knowledgeable, both about the architecture and history of the house and also about the Alcott family. Concord is a great destination for travelling readers, since there have been quite a few other authors from the area (e.g. Emerson and Thoreau).