"Little Women" is a novel written by Louisa May Alcott and published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, respectively. Alcott wrote the book in response to a request from her friends and family to write a book for young girls. The first novel was a huge success with readers and Alcott was inundated with […]
Louisa May Alcott
Born on November 29, 1832, which just happened to be her father's thirty-third birthday, Louisa May Alcott grew to be not only an amazing writer but also a feminist and an abolitionist. Louisa's family was not very wealthy, and her father often had trouble supporting his family of girls, so they women had to work,also. Louisa and her sisters filled in jobs as teacher, seamstress, governess, housekeeper, and for Louisa, she was also a writer.
Louisa's father, Amos Branson Alcott, was a member of the Transcendental Club. He even tried to start a school for children that taught using his beliefs in transcendentalism. Transcendentalist believed in their idea of perfection and was always striving for it. They were a naturalist who thought the best way for people to move forward is by doing away with the old, set ways and find new insights. Society and it's institutions were corrupt. They taught self-reliance and independence. But, still, Louisa's wildness angered her father, often.
With her father as her primary teacher, and his friends, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Margaret Fuller, helping in her education, Louisa's could hardly prevent becoming a writer. But, the surprising part was her gift for children's books.
Louisa May Alcott's literary work was topped by her book, "Little Women", and the sequels, "Good Wives", and "Jo's Boys". The books were semi – autobiographical and based on her life growing up, with three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth, and Abigail May. She wrote her first book in 1849 when she was seventeen, Flower Fables, as a gift for the daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ellen. For a while, Louisa wrote passionate and sensational stories under the name A. M. Barnard. These books were aimed more for an adult audience and didn't do as well as her children's books. At the time the American Civil War broke out, Louisa was working as a journalist for the Atlantic Monthly.
Louisa tried to fill in as a nurse during the war. She spent six weeks at the Union Hospital in Georgetown, D. C., but was forced to quit when she contracted typhoid. She did use manage to write some letters home during her convalescence that were published in the Commonwealth as Hospital Sketches. They exposed the mismanagement of hospitals and how the surgeons she encountered showed indifference and callousness.
Having never married, Louisa explained her "spinsterhood" to having the soul of a man trapped in a woman's body. But, she did fall in love once. While she was in Europe, she had a romance with a young Polish man, Ladislas "Laddie" Wisniewski. She based her character, Laurie on him in "Little Women". Apparently, the romance didn't end well, because she destroyed any evidence of him in her journals before her death. Although she never had children, she did raise her sister, Abigail May's daughter after she died from what was termed, childbed fever. Lulu was born in 1879, and Louisa cared for her until her death in 1888.
On March 6, 1888, Louisa May Alcott died after suffering a stroke at the age of fifty-five. Her health had not been very good since the typhoid she contracted during the Civil War. She is buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. Near her are the graves of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau. The site is known as Author's Ridge.