Louisa May Alcott | Meredith Sweetpea

Miss Meredith Sweetpea loved reading Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott when she was growing up. Didn’t you? After coming across my dog-eared copies, I thought I’d share a little more about the Victorian author behind these beloved books.

Louisa May Alcott’s Youth


Author Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott was born November 29, 1832 in Germantown (near Philadelphia), Pennsylvania to Transcendentalist and educator Amos Bronson Alcott and social worker Abby May. She was the second of four daughters.

The family moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1838, where her father opened an experimental school and joined the Transcendental Club with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

Her father maintained strict views on child rearing and was sometimes unable to provide for his family, issues which shaped Louisa’s views. After several setbacks with the school, the Alcotts moved to a cottage along the Sudbury River in Concord, MA, then to the Utopian Fruitlands community, to rented rooms, to a purchased house in Concord, MA  in 1845 they named “Hillside.”

Since the family was poor, Louisa had to go to work early and did not attend formal schooling. Because of all her pressures, she took on writing as a creative and emotional outlet. Her first book was Flower Fables (1849), a selection of tales originally written for Ellen Emerson, daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Louisa May Alcott as a Writer

In 1860, Alcott began writing for the Atlantic Monthly. When the Civil War broke out, she worked as a nurse at Union Hospital in the Georgetown section of Washington D.C. for six weeks. Her letters home during that time were published as a collection called Hospital Sketches (1863).

In the mid-1860s, Alcott wrote under the pen name of A.M. Barnard, writing passionate novels and sensational stories, and wholesome stories for children.

Little Women was first published in 1868, as Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, a semi-autobiographical account of her childhood with her sisters in Concord. Little Men was released in 1871 and detailed her life at the Plumfield School she founded with her husband,Professor Bhaer.

In Little Women, Jo married, but in reality, Alcott remained single her entire life.

Alcott’s Later Years

Suffering from chronic illnesses, Louisa May Alcott continued to write until her death at age 55 of a stroke. The date was March 6, 1888, two days after her father’s death. She is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord on a hillside now known as “Author’s Ridge” where Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau are also buried.

–excerpted from Wikipedia

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