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Louisa May Alcott ( 1832 - 1888 )  Category ( Authors ) [suggest a correction]
 

Louisa May AlcottBorn into a New England family of transcendentalists, Louisa May Alcott grew up surrounded and influenced by free thinkers, abolitionists and authors. Though her family was from New England, she was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. She had three sisters, one older and two younger. Her father, Amos Bronson Alcott was a member of the Transcendental Club along with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Due to the philosophical outlook associated with transcendentalists, the family usually lived in poverty. When Louisa was still a child her family relocated to Concord, MA. For a time they lived in a Utopian-style commune, but finally settled in a house that was purchased with her mother's inheritance and with assistance from Emerson. Young Louisa may have lived in straitened circumstances, but she also had the unusual advantage of being tutored for a time by Thoreau, and she also received instruction in writing from Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller. The authors were family friends.

As she grew older, Louisa became both an abolitionist and a feminist. By the time she was a teenager, Louisa began helping her family financially through work as a teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic helper, and writer. Her first book, Flower Fables, was published when she was 22 years old. A few years later she began writing for the magazine, Atlantic Monthly. She served as a nurse for six weeks during the American Civil War. Her letters during that time were eventually published as Hospital Sketches (1863). For quite some time, however, most of her writing money came from authoring "potboilers," or passionate, dramatic romances. She attained her greatest success when she began writing about what she knew best, her life with her sisters growing up.

Alcott's great novel, Little Women, is a semi-autobiographical account of her years growing up with her sisters in Concord. She later wrote sequels to Little Women, which were very popular among readers at the time. Although the character of Jo March was based loosely on Louisa May Alcott, Alcott, unlike the character, never married. She explained her spinsterhood once by claiming that she had "fallen in love with many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man." Though she had no children, she raised a niece from the age of two, after Louisa's younger sister, May, died. In later life Louisa remained an advocate for women's issues and concerns. She suffered poor health in her mid to later years due to the after-effects of mercury poisoning she received during her Civil War service (it was used as a treatment for typhoid). She died in 1888 at the age of 55, two days after visiting her father on his deathbed. Her novel, Little Women, remains a classic children's bestseller and has been made into a number of plays, cinema, and television films.

Image: Louisa May Alcott.


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Title :Louisa May Alcott, domestic goddess
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Title :Louisa May Alcott
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