Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832, American novelist Louisa May Alcott was the daughter of a noted transcendentalist,educator/philosopher father, Bronson Alcott and abolitionist and women’s rights advocate mother, Abigal May. Louisa’s childhood was spent in Boston and in Concord Massachusetts. Alongside her three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth, and May, Louisa was educated at their father’s Concord Summer School of Philosophy. Louisa also received an education of a practical vein from her mother amidst a genteel atmosphere of poverty. There, in the bossom of family, Louisa also had ample opportunities to bask in the light of excellence with friends of prolific intellect and interests such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Theodore Parker.
Louisa’s strength of character was particularly enviable despite living in a society that notoriously offered rare opportunities to women seeking employment. She was once quoted as saying, “… I will make a battering-ram of my head and make my way through this rough and tumble world.” Louisa not only made her way into the rough and tumble world but left her eternal mark on history.
During her lifetime Louisa served as a nurse during the Civil War where she contracted typhoid that damaged her health for the rest of her life. She was an ardent abolitionist, a supporter of temperance, and women’s rights but, most notably, she was an unparalleled Author, Novelist,and Writer.
For Louisa, writing was a burning flame of passion with beginnings early in life. This passion, combined with her natural dramatic personality, ironic humor, and flamboyant imagination, served Louisa’s career, well. She began writing as an author of poetry and short stories that regularly appeared in popular magazines of the day such as ‘The Atlantic Monthly’. Her first book, ‘Flower Fables’, was published in 1854, when she was just 22. She wrote ‘Hospital Sketches’ in 1863, which brought the real first blush of fame to Louisa. This book was based on the letters she had written home from her post as a nurse in Washington, DC during the Civil War.
By the time she was 35 years old, Louisa was asked by her publisher in Boston, Thomas Niles, to write “a book for girls.” Between May to July 1868 at Orchard House, Little Women was written. The successful autobiographical novel was based on the coming of age for Louisa and her sisters and set against the backdrop of Civil War in New England.
Louisa also wrote ‘An Old-Fashioned Girl’ in 1870, ‘Little Men’ in 1871, ‘Aunt Jo’s Scrap Bag’, 6 vol in 1872-82, ‘Eight Cousins’ in 1875, ‘Rose in Bloom’ in 1876, and ‘Jo’s Boys’ in 1886.
In an excerpt from the official website of Louisa May Alcott, it is also noted: “Jo March” was the first American juvenile heroine to act from her own individuality – a living, breathing person rather than the idealized stereotype then prevalent in children’s fiction.
On a personal note; Late in her life, Louisa adopted Louisa May Nieriker, her namesake, and daughter of her late sister, May. During the final two decades of her life in Boston and Concord, Louis selflessly spent her time caring for her ailing mother who died in 1877.
Louisa May Alcott died on March 6, 1888, just two days after her father. She is Buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, MA. This incredible woman has left to history, her published works of over 30 books and collections of stories.