Who was the real Beth March?

By Trix Wilkins

Nobody has ever studied Elizabeth in depth before; her life is a prime example of being hidden in plain view. Once you start focusing on her, there is much to find. Susan Bailey, Louisa May Alcott is my passion 

Beth piano PIC

Little Women’s Beth March was a shy, generous and musically gifted young woman – but who was the real Beth, Louisa May Alcott’s sister Elizabeth? Was she the kind and gentle younger sister of fiery Jo and prudent Meg? What was her relationship with younger sister Amy like? Did she have any plans and dreams beyond those ascribed to Beth? And how did she come to die so young?

As little is known of Elizabeth Alcott’s life, author Susan Bailey hopes to shed light on her long neglected story, “a prime example of being hidden in plain view.” It will be the first book of its kind – and as fellow fans of Little Women, she’d love your help. Simply post your answers to one or more of the following questions, and you’ve just contributed to the making of a biography!  🙂

What would you most like to know about Elizabeth and why?

What do you know already about her?

Who is your favorite March sister is and why? (If Beth is not your favorite, why?)

Do you think Beth is a relevant character for modern readers and why or why not? What would make her more “real” to you?

LW Book Rose PIC

P.S. My two cents on the questions…

What would you most like to know about Elizabeth and why? So many things! I would really like to know about what her real connection to music was. Did she really love playing the piano? Why didn’t she get the opportunity to? Was there a real gift of a piano and did she get to have music lessons? Did she ever perform for the sisters’ plays behind the scenes, or for the neighbourhood children?

What do you know already about her? Not very much I think, compared to how much there is to know! She was Louisa’s beloved sister, the latter really loved her and thought the world of her; she contracted scarlet fever, and died in her early twenties. I find it hard to untangle the ideas and impressions I have of Beth March from the snippets I read of Elizabeth.

Who is your favorite March sister is and why? If Beth is not your favorite, why? Jo March – I identify with her penchant for writing, ice skating, reading, and not wanting to do what was expected of her. I like that she didn’t base her treatment of people on their wealth or status or what they could do for her. And I like that she didn’t chase money for the sake of money, but to benefit other people.

Do you think Beth is a relevant character for modern readers and why or why not? What would make her more “real” to you? Definitely. I think she’s a relevant character in any age. Her virtues are often unsung but no less significant than the things that are easily seen. She’s quietly kind, and doesn’t make a show of her generosity; she shows tremendous gratitude for the kindnesses done for her, and doesn’t take people for granted – characteristics we would all do well to have more of!

P.P.S. A book for your thoughts…

All who respond to the above questions for Susan Bailey in the comments section below will go into a draw to win an eBook ARC of The Courtship of Jo March – and even if you’re not interested in the latter, please comment anyway! 🙂 Entries close on the last day of the Louisa May Alcott Summer Conversations Series, Noble Companions and Immortal Labors: The Alcotts, Thoreaus, and the Quest for Social Justice, July 20, 2017.

3 thoughts on “Who was the real Beth March?

  1. I tried to keep my answers relatively short. 😄

    What would you most like to know about Elizabeth and why?
    What I would most like to know about Elizabeth is if she really was the very quiet, always even tempered sister. Did she ever have a hard time getting along with any of her other sisters?

    What do you know already about her?
    I know that she became sick and died of the scarlet fever at a young age… not much, actually.

    Who is your favorite March sister and why? (If Beth is not your favorite, why?)
    Jo. I connect with her in so many ways… writing, personality, aspirations. A love for boys. 😂

    Do you think Beth is a relevant character for modern readers and why or why not? What would make her more “real” to you?
    I believe that Beth is more real than you can get. She is so easy to connect with, and fall in love with at first sight. I wouldn’t want to change her for who she is.

    Liked by 1 person

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