Minerva McTabby (mctabby) wrote in louisamay,

Little Women series: suggested timeline

This is my attempt at drawing up a timeline for Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men, and Jo's Boys. Based on close reading of text, plus assumptions and guesswork. Posting here for general interest - comments welcome.


Little Women series timeline

August 1846 - Meg is born
February 1847 - Laurie is born
November 1847 - Jo is born
1849 - Beth is born
1850 - Amy is born

November 1862 - Jo turns 15
December 1862 - first Christmas, opening of Little Women
New Year's Eve 1862-63 - Mrs Gardiner's party, Jo and Laurie talk and dance
February 1863 - Laurie turns 16
April 1863 - Meg stays with the Moffats
June 1863 - Experiments, Jo's dinner party
July 1863 - Camp Laurence picnic
August 1863 - Meg turns 17
October 1863 - Jo's story published in Spread Eagle
November 1863 - Mr. March sick in Washington; Beth gets scarlet fever
December 1863 - 1st-2nd, crisis of Beth's illness; second Christmas, close of Little Women

June 1867 - Meg's wedding, opening of Good Wives (Little Women Part II); Jo is 19, Amy is 16
July-August 1867 - Meg fails at currant jelly
November 1867 - Meg spends $50 on violet silk
late June 1868 - Meg has twins
July 1868 - Jo and Amy make calls together
autumn 1868 - Amy leaves for Europe
November 1868 - Jo turns 21, goes to New York, meets Bhaer
June 1869 - Jo returns from New York
July-August 1869 - Laurie graduates - proposes to Jo - leaves for Europe

August-September 1869 - Jo finds out that Beth is dying
December 1869 - Christmas - Laurie and Amy meet in Nice
spring 1870 - Beth dies
June 1870 - Laurie proposes to Amy at Vevay

November 1870 - Jo turns 23 (book says 25); Laurie and Amy come home; Bhaer turns up
December 1870 - Jo and Bhaer get engaged
1871 - Jo and Bhaer work and wait
1872 - Aunt March dies, Jo and Bhaer get married
1873 (?) - Rob Bhaer born, Bess Laurence born
1875 (?) - Ted Bhaer born
October 1877 - apple-picking, close of Good Wives, Jo is almost 30

spring 1878 - opening of Little Men; Demi and Daisy are almost 10, Nat is 12, Tom is 11
May (?) 1878 - Dan comes to Plumfield, aged about 14; Dan is sent away
June (?) 1878 - Nan comes to Plumfield, aged 10
July 1878 - Dan comes back with injured foot
August 1878 - huckleberrying, Nan and Rob get lost
September 1878 - John Brooke dies
November 1878 - Thanksgiving, close of Little Men

July 1888 - opening of Jo's Boys; Jo is 40, Bess is 15, Josie is 14, Nan is 20
September 1888 - dog bites Rob, rabies scare
November 1888 - Emil's Thanksgiving
December 1888 - Dan's Christmas
January 1889 - Nat's New Year
summer 1889 - Franz and Emil get married, Demi engaged
October 1889 - Dan injured in mine accident, returns to Plumfield
March 1890 - Dan leaves Plumfield, Nat returns, close of Jo's Boys; Jo is 42
spring 1890 - Laurence family goes to Europe, possibly taking Ted Bhaer



Why 1862?
Because 1861 feels too early; the war seems to be well under way as the novel opens, with "Father far away, where the fighting was." The Northern forces weren't doing much fighting in late 1861, but plenty in 1862. And starting the story in December 1863 would be too late, since that would take the Meg/John engagement to December 1864 - but we need at least a year between Meg's engagement and the end of the war (John served for a year before getting wounded).

Jo's age
Chapter 43 ("Surprises") opens with Jo contemplating her impending 25th birthday. I think it's her 23rd birthday. There simply hasn't been enough time for her to get from 19 (at Meg's wedding) to 25.

ETA: Here's another timeline, taken from The Little Women Treasury. Starts two years earlier. I'm still happier with my version of the dates, though not claiming they're right.
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