Louisa May Alcott

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Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott
Born (1832-11-29)November 29, 1832
Germantown, Pennsylvania
Died March 6, 1888(1888-03-06) (aged 55)
Boston, Massachusetts
Notable work(s) Little Women
Little Men
Jo's Boys

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 - March 6, 1888) was an American writer. She was born at Germantown, Pennsylvania to Amos Bronson Alcott, a controversial educator.

In 1834, the Alcott family moved to Massachusetts, finally settling at Concord. Family friends in the area included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Early Years[change | change source]

The Alcotts had money troubles. Louisa went to work at an early age. She taught, sewed, and did chores in houses. In 1848, her first book, Flower Fables, was published.[1]

Writing[change | change source]

She wrote many sensational stories and passionate novels such as A Long Fatal Love Chase. She also wrote stories for children. The critics liked these children's stories. She began writing only for children. In 1868, Little Women was published. It was a great success. After Little Women, Alcott wrote Little Men in 1871 and Jo's Boys in 1886. These books were about four fictional sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March. The books were based on Alcott's childhood experiences with her own three sisters. The character of Jo was based on Alcott herself. Other children's books by Alcott include Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, Under the Lilacs, and Jack and Jill.

Alcott supported the rights of women and slaves in America. In 1860, Alcott wrote for a newspaper. When the American Civil War began, she worked as a nurse in a hospital at theD.C., for six weeks in 1862–1863.[1] She wanted to serve three months as a nurse, but she got typhoid and got ill, but she did get better. Her letters to her home were put in popular newspapers and books (1863, republished with additions in 1869)[1]. These letters gave her fame, and people liked her observations and humor.[2] She wrote about the bad care of hospitals by some doctors. Many people liked her stories and became fans of her writing.

After the American Civil War, Alcott wrote fun and smart books under the name A. M. Barnard. One of her books was A Long Fatal Love Chase. Her protagonists for these books were strong and smart. She also wrote books for children, and when they became popular, she did not go back to writing for adults. Other books she wrote are the novelette A Modern Mephistopheles (1875), which people thought someone else wrote; and the Work (1873).

Alcott became very famous with her book Little Women: or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (1868), a story of her childhood with her sisters in Massachusetts. Part two, or Part Second, also known as Good Wives (1869), followed the characters into adulthood and marriage. Little Men (1871) talked about Jo's life at the Plumfield School that she started with her husband Professor Bhaer at the end of Part Two of Little Women. Jo's Boys (1886) completed the "March Family Saga".

Louisa May Alcott commemorative stamp, 1940 issue

In Little Women, Alcott based her character "Jo" on herself. But Jo marries at the end of the story, and Alcott never got married. She said, "I am more than half-persuaded that I am a man's soul put by some freak of nature into a woman's body ... because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man." [3][4] Every character in Little Women is like a person in Alcott's own life.

Little Women was liked by a lot of people of different ages. A reviewer of Eclectic Magazine called it "the very best of books to reach the hearts of the young of any age from six to sixty".[5] People also liked the book because it was like their own lives.

Personal life[change | change source]

After three years after the Civil War started, Alcott got a job in a hospital in District of Columbia. She worked for six weeks between 1861 and 1862.[1] When Alcott stayed in hospital, she got typhoid. She had to spend a long time in bed, which affected her health..[6]

Alcott died of a stroke at age 55 in Boston, Massachusetts on March 6, 1888.[7] She and her earliest biographers[8]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3  Richardson, Charles F. (1911). "Alcott, Louisa May". Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh) 1. Cambridge University Press. 
  2. Peck, Garrett (2015). Walt Whitman in Washington, D.C.: The Civil War and America's Great Poet. Charleston, SC: The History Press. pp. 73–76. ISBN 978-1626199736.
  3. "Introduction". The Lost Stories of Louisa May Alcott. New York: Citadel Press. 1993. ISBN 0-8065-1654-2. https://books.google.com/?id=6KyE2i0aM3AC&pg=PR22&lpg=PR22&dq=Ladislas+Wisniewski#v=onepage&q=Ladislas%20Wisniewski&f=false. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  4. Hill, Rosemary (February 29, 2008). "From little acorns, nuts: Review of 'Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father' by John Matteson". The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/mar/01/featuresreviews.guardianreview27. "Louisa succumbed to typhoid pneumonia within a month and had to be taken home. Although she narrowly survived the illness she did not recover from the cure. The large doses of calomel—mercurous chloride—she was given poisoned her and she was never well again."
  5. Clark, Beverly Lyon (2004). Louisa May Alcott: The Contemporary Reviews. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521827805. https://books.google.com/?id=czzIm4FT-DkC&dq=Louisa+May+Alcott:+The+Contemporary+Reviews+by+Beverly+Lyon+Clark.
  6. Peck, Garrett (2015). Walt Whitman in Washington, D.C.: The Civil War and America's Great Poet. Charleston, SC: The History Press. pp. 73–76. ISBN 978-1626199736.
  7. Donaldson, Norman and Betty (1980). How Did They Die?. Greenwich House. ISBN 0-517-40302-1.
  8. Hirschhorn, Norbert; Greaves, Ian (Spring 2007). "Louisa May Alcott: Her Mysterious Illness". Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 50 (2): 243–259. doi:10.1353/pbm.2007.0019. PMID 17468541.