Louisa May Alcott is one of the most beloved authors of all time. She wrote Little Women and many other books for children.
- Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1832.
- Her father, Bronson Alcott, was a teacher; her mother, Abby May, was a social worker. Louisa’s parents were transcendentalists, part of a religious and social movement that worked to create perfect and harmonious life. They knew many of the leading writers and thinkers of the time, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hendry David Thoreau, and Ralph Emerson.
- The family moved to Boston in 1834 and Bronson opened an experimental school. He had unusual ideas about education and the school did not prosper.
- The family moved to Concord where they would live in several different homes. Bronson had a hard time providing for the family and money was always tight. They moved 22 times in 30 years.
- At one point, they lived at Fruitlands, a community home.
- Louisa’s father was her main teacher, but she also received instruction from Henry David Thoreau and other writers of the time.
- Because her family was so poor, she went to work at an early age as a seamstress, a governess, and a writer. Her writing was a creative and emotional outlet for her.
- She was driven to be successful because she hated being poor.
- Louisa began writing poems and articles for magazines. A staunch abolitionist, she became a nurse during the Civil War. She wrote popular pieces about life in a military hospital.
- In 1868, Louisa published Little Women, based on her own life. The character of Jo is based on Louisa herself, although Louisa never married.
- The book was very popular and Louisa was embarrassed by the attention. She sometimes pretended to be a servant when people came to the house to see the famous author.
- Louisa died of a stroke in 1888. She was only 55 years old. She is buried in Concord next to other famous authors of the time.
- Seamstress: someone who sews or mends clothing
- Governess: a private in-home teacher for children
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What did Louisa do when she wasn’t writing?
Answer: She loved to read and be in the outdoors. She was also an abolitionist and feminist. She believed women deserved the right to an education and adequate work and helped organize a union in Boston.
Watch a video about Louisa.