In the original manuscript version of Little Women, Alcott follows Jo's final and firm refusal speech with this surprising line: "Then he caught her in his arms and kissed her passionately" (Little Women ms). The line is emphatically crossed out. Clearly, Alcott desired for Jo to have a romantic life -- but as her obliteration of the kiss indicates, a connection with the story's hero was not possible.
I'm quoting from this essay: Why Jo Didn't Marry Laurie: Louisa May Alcott and The Heir of Redclyffe by Karen Sands-O'Connor, American Transcendental Quarterly 15 (2001): 23-41.
Sands-O'Connor argues that as well as being based on two guys LMA knew (Ladislas Wisniewski and Alfred Whitman), the character of Laurie was also inspired by Sir Guy Morville in The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte M. Yonge. There are some striking parallels - and LMA's girl readers of 1868 would have picked up on them, since the Redclyffe novel was a huge best-seller at the time.
LMA seems to have included a shout-out: at the start of Little Women Chapter 3, titled "The Laurence Boy", Jo is "eating apples and crying over the 'Heir of Redclyffe', wrapped up in a comforter on an old three-legged sofa by the sunny window."
Has anyone else read this article? Do you find Sands-O'Connor's theory convincing?