ALCOTT, Louisa May

Born: November 29, 1832, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, United States

Died: March 6, 1888, in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Louisa May Alcott grew up in Concord, near Boston. She is noted for being an abolitionist and an advocate of women's suffrage. Her early influences were her tutors, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Alcott's father, Bronson Alcott, was a leading social thinker of the day. He founded Temple School in Boston, one of the last girls' schools. Bronson was an ardent follower of the transcendentalist philosophy and a non-resident member of Brook Farm; however, despite being an active reformer, scholar and educator, he was unable to support his family. Therefore, to supplement the family income, Louisa became a domestic, seamstress, and teacher.

After a time, Alcott started writing as a profession. She wrote several popular melodramas, such as The Bandit's Bride, and poetry that was published in The Atlantic Monthly, an influential arts magazine. Her first book, Flower Fables, written for Emerson's daughter, was published in 1854 as a children's book.

During the Civil War, Alcott became a nurse in Georgetown. She contracted typhoid from the unsanitary conditions and never completely recovered. Her illness, however, inspired Hospital Sketches, a popular book when it was published in 1863. In 1867, Alcott became editor of Merry Museum, a children's magazine.

In 1868, Alcott published her most famous book, Little Women. With the publication and success of this book, the Alcott family could live without financial burdens. Alcott died just two days after her father.