Little Men by Louisa May Alcott has always been one of my favourite books. It’s a story full of compassion, grace, hope and transformed lives. However, the author is more known for her book, Little Women.
Publisher Thomas Niles suggested Alcott write a book about girls. He thought that would have widespread appeal. At first, Alcott wasn’t interested, but she wrote in her journal, “Niles, asked me to write a girl’s book. I said I’d try.”
She began writing the story using her own childhood experiences, but found it too boring and a chore. She penned a few chapters and sent it to Niles. He agreed that what she had written was too dull, however he passed it onto his young niece. She read it and loved it.
Niles encouraged Alcott to keep writing. When the manuscript was finished, Alcott gave it to a few girls to review. All of them loved the book. Little Women became an instant hit in the year 1886.
Although the book is heartwarming, Alcott’s life was very difficult at times. She had poor health and resented the lack of interest and insensitivity of the way some of the doctors treated her. At one point she became so distraught with her life, she thought about suicide.
To release her frustrations, Alcott used the pen name, A.M. Barnard. Under the assumed name, she wrote stories about strong-willed protagonists who took revenge on those who humiliated or thwarted them in their goals.
In many ways, writing is therapeutic. Some of the best stories have come from people who have been broken, hurt or rejected. These writers somehow have been able to create heartwarming stories that capture the hearts and imaginations of many.
Through their writing, they empower themselves to rise above their own difficult circumstances or to even address a situation that troubles them.
The children’s book, Black Beauty, was written by Anna Sewell. She wrote it specifically for those who worked with horses. Her goal was to show them the need to treat the animals with kindness and show them understanding.
Sewell grew up Christian. She learned that it was God’s will that love and compassion be shown to everyone, including to animals. It appalled her to see many of the work horses treated badly by their owners. She wrote, “There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham.”
She decided to use her skill of writing to weave a story from the horse’s perspective and drew on her memory of all the times she had witnessed cruelty to these animals.
Black Beauty was published in 1887 and became an instant hit. Fifty million copies have sold and the book has become one of the best read around the world.
A year after the book went public, Anna died. She never got to see the impact her book made and how her goal was realized in that it gave children everywhere a love and an appreciation of horses.
Writing is a powerful tool that can help empower the writer in their own life and also to help them impact change in the world.