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Louisa May Alcott

  • ... where I wholly love I wholly trust.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • "Pauline's Passion and Punishment," in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper ()
  • The duty we owe ourselves is greater than that we owe others.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • Moods
    • ()
  • It takes two flints to make a fire.

  • I do think that families are the most beautiful things in all the world.

  • You have a good many little gifts and virtues, but there is no need of parading them, for conceit spoils the finest genius. There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long, and the great charm of all power is modesty.

  • I can't get over my disappointment in not being a boy.

  • Fame is a very good thing to have in the house, but cash is more convenient.

  • They always looked back before turning the corner, for their mother was always at the window to nod and smile, and wave her hand at them. Somehow it seemed as if they couldn't have got through the day without that, for whatever their mood might be, the last glimpse of that motherly face was sure to affect them like sunshine.

  • 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 become a beautiful success, in spite of poverty.

  • Some books are so familiar, reading them is like being home again.

  • To the inspiration of necessity, we owe half the wise, beautiful, and useful blessings of the world.

  • Money is a needful and precious thing — and, when well used, a noble thing — but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for.

  • The homeliest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them.

  • I never knew how much like heaven this world could be, when two people love and live for one another!

  • Honesty is the best policy, in love as in law ...

  • Conceit spoils the finest genius.

  • ... love is the only thing that we can carry with us when we go, and it makes the end so easy.

  • To most the end comes as naturally and simply as sleep.

  • Love is a great beautifier.

  • In spite of the laughing at them, the world would never get on without reformers.

  • Housekeeping ain't no joke.

  • Elegance has a bad effect on my constitution.

  • Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents ...

  • I don't think secrets agree with me; I feel rumpled up in my mind since you told me that.

  • ... I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.

  • But buds will be roses, and kittens, cats, — more's the pity!

  • She's got most of the symptoms — is twittery and cross, doesn't eat, lies awake, and mopes in corners.

  • People want to be amused, not preached at, you know. Morals don't sell nowadays.

  • ... it was easier to do a friendly thing than it was to stay and be thanked for it.

  • ... I wait for a chance to confer a great favor, and let the small ones slip; but they tell best in the end, I fancy.

  • November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year.

  • It takes people a long time to learn the difference between talent and genius, especially ambitious young men and women.

  • Began the second part of 'Little Women.' ... Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that was the only end and aim of a woman's life. I won't marry Jo to Laurie to please any one.

  • I am so full of my work, I can't stop to eat or sleep, or for anything but a daily run.

  • Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn't worth ruling.

  • Help[ing] one another is part of the religion of our sisterhood ...

  • Dolls are safe companions.

  • Love scenes, if genuine, are indescribable; for to those who have enacted them the most elaborate description seems tame, and to those who have not, the simplest picture seems overdone.

  • ... the first small sacrifice of this sort leads the way to others, and a single hand's turn given heartily to the world's great work helps one amazingly with one's own small tasks.

  • A holiday isn't a holiday, without plenty of freedom and fun.

  • Liberty must not be abused.

  • Salt is like good-humor, and nearly every thing is better for a pinch of it.

  • Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when face and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us.

  • Girls could do most things as well as boys, and some things better.

  • 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.

  • Where the heart is the mind works best.

  • 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.

  • Sympathy is a sweet thing.

  • It is never too early to try and plant [good principles] in a child, and never too late to cultivate them in the most neglected person.

  • She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • Work
    • ()
  • Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I cannot reach them: but I can look up, and see their beauty; believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • Work
    • ()
  • Work is and always has been my salvation and I thank the Lord for it.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • Work
    • ()
  • Fathers and mothers are too absorbed in business and housekeeping to study their children, and cherish that sweet and natural confidence which is a child's surest safeguard, and a parent's subtlest power.

  • ... fatherly and motherly hearts often beat warm and wise in the breasts of bachelor uncles and maiden aunts; and it is my private opinion that these worthy creatures are a beautiful provision of nature for the cherishing of other people's children.

  • I believe that it is as much a right and duty for women to do something with their lives as for men and we are not going to be satisfied with such frivolous parts as you give us.

  • Power is a dangerous thing. Be careful that you don't abuse it or let it make a tyrant of you.

  • Now and then genius carries all before it, but not often. We have to climb slowly, with many slips and falls.

  • The female population exceeds the male, you know, especially in New England, which accounts for the high state of culture we are in, perhaps.

  • It takes three or four women to get each man into, through, and out of the world.

  • Love is apt to make lunatics of even men and saints.

  • People cannot be molded like clay.

  • Have your fun, my dear; but if you must earn your bread, try to make it sweet with cheerfulness, not bitter with the daily regret that it isn't cake.

  • Young people think they never can change, but they do in the most wonderful manner, and very few die of broken hearts.

  • Mothers can forgive anything!

  • Mother love [is] that divine gift which comforts, purifies, and strengthens all who seek it.

  • ... it takes very little fire to make a great deal of smoke nowadays, and notoriety is not real glory.

  • Now we are expected to be as wise as men who have had generations of all the help there is, and we scarcely anything.

  • Fame is a pearl many dive for and only a few bring up. Even when they do, it is not perfect, and they sigh for more, and lose better things in struggling for them.

  • Death, the stern sculptor, with a touch / No earthly power can stay, / Changes to marble in an hour / The beautiful, pale clay.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • on the death of her sister May, in Eva Munson Smith, Woman in Sacred Song ()
  • ... to marry without love betrays as surely as to love without marriage ...

  • Life is my college. May I graduate well, and earn some honors.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • in Ednah D. Cheney, ed., Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals ()
  • A house needs a grandma in it.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1857, in Ednah D. Cheney, ed., Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals ()
  • I have at last got the little room I have wanted so long, and am very happy about it. It does me good to be alone ...

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1846, in Ednah D. Cheney, ed., Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals ()
  • I ... resolved to take Fate by the throat and shake a living out of her.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1858, in Ednah D. Cheney, ed., Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals ()
  • All is fish that comes to the literary net. Goethe puts his joys and sorrows into poems; I turn my adventures into bread and butter.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1872, in Ednah D. Cheney, ed., Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals ()
  • I asked for bread, and got a stone, — in the shape of a pedestal.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1875, in Ednah D. Cheney, ed., Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals ()
  • [On her philosopher father:] My definition [of a philosopher] is of a man up in a balloon, with his family and friends holding the ropes which confine him to earth and trying to haul him down.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1878, in Ednah D. Cheney, ed., Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals ()
  • Now I am beginning to live a little, and feel less like a sick oyster at low tide.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1887, in Ednah D. Cheney, ed., Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals ()
  • He is like a great fire, where all can come and be warmed and comforted.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • on Theodore Parker, in Cornelia Meigs, Invincible Louisa ()
  • After toiling so many years along the uphill road — always a hard one to women writers — it is peculiarly grateful to me to find the way growing easier at last, with pleasant little surprises blossoming on either side, and the rough places made smooth by the courtesy and kindness of those who have proved themselves friends as well as publishers.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1869, in Ednah D. Cheney, ed., Louisa May Alcott: Life, Letters, and Journals ()
  • I think immortality is the passing of a soul thro many lives or experiences, & such as are truly lived, used & learned help on to the next, each growing richer, higher, happier, carrying with it only the real memories of what has gone before.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • letter (1884), in Elizabeth Keyser, The Portable Louisa May Alcott ()
  • 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.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • letter to Lucy Stone (1885), in Elizabeth Keyser, The Portable Louisa May Alcott ()
  • [The way she ended most of her letters:] Most heartily yours for woman suffrage and all other reforms.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • in Eve LaPlante, Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother ()
  • Liberty is a better husband than love to many of us.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1860, in Eve LaPlante, Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother ()
  • Life was always a puzzle to me. When I had the youth I had no money; now I have the money I have no time; and when I get the time, if I ever do, I shall have no health to enjoy life.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1874, in Eve LaPlante, Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother ()
  • ... books have been my greatest comfort, castle-building a never-failing delight, and scribbling a very profitable amusement.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • in Eve LaPlante, Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother ()
  • I consider it the best part of an education to have been born and brought up in the country.

    • Louisa May Alcott
  • He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions.

    • Louisa May Alcott
  • 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.

    • Louisa May Alcott
  • Devotees of grammatical studies have not been distinguished for any very remarkable felicities of expression.

    • Louisa May Alcott
  • I like good strong words that mean something.

  • The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed, smoothing a coverlid here, setting a pillow there, and pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face, to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed, and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter.

Louisa May Alcott, U.S. writer

(1832 - 1888)

Also wrote under the name A.M. Barnard.