Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) grew up in Massachusetts, and her upbringing in a poor but happy environment gave her stories a strong autobiographical element. Wholesome without being condescending, her deceptively simple writing style made her works instantly popular, and so they have remained. 'Little Women' was her finest work, and was loved for its touching portrayal of American family life.
Louisa May Alcott was born on 29th November 1832 in Germantown, U.S.A. She was the daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott and Abigail May Alcott. The family moved to Boston in 1834 and shortly after moved again to Massachusetts where Alcott’s father established an experimental school. In 1840 the family moved to a cottage on two acres of land, situated along the Sudbury River in Concord Massachusetts.
Alcott was educated mainly by her father, but she also had lessons from the naturalist Henry David Thoreau. Poverty made it necessary for Alcott to go to work while still young as an occasional teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic helper, and writer. Her first book was Flower Fables, a selection of tales originally written for Ellen Emerson, daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson. The family moved to Orchard House in 1857, which is where Alcott wrote and set the classic novel, Little Women. In 1860, Alcott began writing for the Atlantic Monthly and when the American Civil War broke out, she served as a nurse in the Union Hospital at Georgetown, D.C.
Alcott produced wholesome stories for children, and after their positive reception, she rarely returned to creating works for adults. Alcott’s literary success arrived with the publication of the first part of Little Women: or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, (1868). Although a story about a family called March, it is regarded as a semi-autobiographical account of Alcott’s own childhood with her sisters in Concord, Massachusetts.
Good Wives, the sequal to Little Women followed the March sisters into adulthood and their respective marriages. Little Men detailed Jo’s life at the Plumfield School that she founded with her husband Professor Bhaer at the conclusion of Good Wives. Jo’s Boys, published in 1886, completed the “March Family Saga”.
In her later life, Alcott became an advocate for women’s suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord in a school board election. Alcott died in Boston, on March 6th 1888, aged 55, two days after visiting her father who was on his deathbed.