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Louisa May Alcott (1832 - 1888)

Alcott, Louisa May

Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832, in Germantown, Pennsylvania. She spent her childhood in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts, where she met Ralph Waldo Emerson and took nature walks with Henry David Thoreau. When her family encountered financial difficulties, Alcott took on any jobs she could find and was eventually able to turn her love for writing into a source of income as several of her poems and short stories appeared in popular magazines.

Her first book, Flower Fables, was published in 1855. Then, during the Civil War, Alcott moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as a nurse, where she contracted typhoid as well as mercury poisoning from the medicines used to cure it at the time, from which she would suffer for the rest of her life. However, she was able to turn her experiences in Washington into Hospital Sketches, which was published in 1863.

Soon after, her publisher, Thomas Niles, asked her to write “a story for girls.” In two and half months, Alcott wrote Little Women, which was based on her own experiences of growing up with three sisters. It was published in 1868, and became an immediate success.

In the years before her death on March 6th, 1888, Alcott published over 30 books and collections of short stories, leaving a legacy of wonderful stories to be enjoyed by generations of young readers.

Famous quotations by Louisa May Alcott:

  • I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

  • She had a womanly instinct that clothes possess an influence more powerful over many than the worth of character or the magic of manners.

  • It takes two flints to make a fire.

  • Do the things you know, and you shall learn the truth you need to know.

  • Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.

  • Suggested sites for Louisa May Alcott:

    Encyclopedia article about Louisa May Alcott
    Texts by Alcott
    Eight Cousins
    Rosie Campbell becomes an orphan after her father's death and sent to live with her six aunts and seven cousins (all boys).
    Flower Fables
    A collection of six stories written for children that include fairies, sentient flowers, and elves.
    Little Women
    The story of five sisters during the Civil War, trying to make ends meet while their father is away.
    An Old-Fashioned Girl
    Polly goes to visit her wealthy cousins, the Shaw family, in the city. Polly stays, supporting herself by teaching music, and when the Shaws are in danger of losing everything they have, Polly figures out a way to help them.

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