Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) was an American writer best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868) and its sequels Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886). Raised in New England by transcendentalist parents, Alcott grew up among many well-known intellectuals of the day, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Having realized early in life that her father was too impractical to provide for his wife and four daughters and after the failure of Fruitlands, a utopian community that he had founded, Alcott’s lifelong concern became the welfare of her family. To support them she taught briefly, worked as a domestic and wrote, producing potboiler novels, at first, and many stories under pseudonyms. At the age of thirty, Louisa May Alcott volunteered as a nurse during the American Civil War but was sent home after contracting typhoid from unsanitary hospital conditions. The publication of Louisa’s account of being a nurse, Hospital Sketches (1863), brought her her first taste of fame before the publication of Little Women.