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Orchard House, home of the Little Women

Listed under Literary Locations in Concord, United States.

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Louisa May Alcott set ‘Little Women’ (1868), her famous story about four sisters growing up together, in the house where she and her three sisters were going up. Though this means she may not have impressed people with her imagination, it did wonders for the books realism and earned her a legion of empathetic fans. A popular Alcott family story was apparently that guests who hadn’t visited the house before would always exclaim that she had captured it so well it was just like being part of the story, which must have been an especially strange feeling in the days before we had everything imagined for us by film and television. Orchard House is now a museum and not much has been changed since Louisa’s tenancy (one of the highlights has to be the desk where she wrote the book, her father built it on a kind of fold out swing, quite ingenious.). The museum docent will tell you that 75% of the furniture is original and the rest replicas of the original, but they may not be able to tell you which is which and unless you have an eye for these sorts of things you probably won’t be able to tell either. The house hasn’t been kept the whole time though, for a period around the end of the 19th Century it was privately owned, so it’s difficult to know how ’real’ everything is (but then maybe I’m just being cynical.). Being in the house does feel a bit like being on the set of a familiar film and the personal possessions of the family have been arranged to promote this feeling - it also becomes even more obvious how closely the characters of the sisters reflect Louisa’s own siblings, even down to cherished things once owned by Elizabeth Sewall Alcott (Beth in ‘Little Women’) who died before the family moved to Orchard House.

399 Lexington Road

PO Box 343

Concord, Massachusetts

Written by  Sophie Edgerton.

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