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Louisa May Alcott

Bio: Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. She and her three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth and May were educated by their father, philosopher/ teacher, Bronson Alcott and raised on the practical Christianity of their mother, Abigail May. Louisa spent her childhood in Boston and in Concord, Massachusetts, where her days were enlightened by visits to Ralph Waldo Emerson's library, excursions into nature with Henry David Thoreau and theatricals in the barn at Hillside (now Hawthorne's "Wayside"). Like her character Jo March in Little Women, young Louisa was a tomboy: "No boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race," she claimed, "and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences...."

For Louisa, writing was an early passion. She had a rich imagination and often her stories became melodramas that she and her sisters would act out for friends. Louisa preferred to play the "lurid" parts in these plays, "the villains, ghosts, bandits, and disdainful queens." At age 15, troubled by the poverty that plagued her family, she vowed: "I will do something by and by. Don't care what, teach, sew, act, write, anything to help the family; and I'll be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I won't!" Confronting a society that offered little opportunity to women seeking employment, Louisa determined "...I will make a battering-ram of my head and make my way through this rough and tumble world." Whether as a teacher, seamstress, governess, or household servant, for many years Louisa did any work she could find.

Louisa's career as an author began with poetry and short stories that appeared in popular magazines. In 1854, when she was 22, her first book Flower Fables was published. A milestone along her literary path was Hospital Sketches (1863) based on the letters she had written home from her post as a nurse in Washington, DC as a nurse during the Civil War. When Louisa was 35 years old, her publisher Thomas Niles in Boston asked her to write "a book for girls." Little Women was written at Orchard House from May to July 1868. The novel is based on Louisa and her sisters' coming of age and is set in Civil War New England. Jo March was the first American juvenile heroine to act from her own individuality; a living, breathing person rather than the idealized stereotype then prevalent in children's fiction. In all, Louisa published over 30 books and collections of stories. She died on March 6, 1888, only two days after her father, and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord.



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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 items in this category.   

1 A Country Christmas [MultiFormat]
by Louisa May Alcott
  Louisa May Alcott's short romance is about two city debs who go to spend Christmas with their country cousins in Vermont. (Published: 2005)

Words: 11544 - Reading Time: 32-46 min.
Category: Classic Literature
5 Reader Ratings:
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2 Hospital Sketches [MultiFormat]
by Louisa May Alcott
  The first book that drew attention to Louisa May Alcott's writing was her vivid account of her own personal experiences as a nurse during the Civil War. (Published: 2005)

Words: 29163 - Reading Time: 83-116 min.
Category: Classic Literature
2 Reader Ratings:
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3 Little Women [MultiFormat]
by Louisa May Alcott
  The March sisters: Meg is the pretty one, Jo the tomboy, Beth the shy one, and Amy the artist. Follow their adventures during the Civil War era as they discover the value of family, love, loyalty, and patience as taught to them by their beloved "Marmee." Listen as the girls negotiate the trials of romance, Jo tries to be taken seriously as a writer, Amy pursues her artistic dreams, and Beth falls ill helping the poor in this Alcott Classic. (Published: 2006)

Words: 186462 - Reading Time: 532-745 min.
Category: Classic Literature
3 Reader Ratings:
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4 The Abbott's Ghost [MultiFormat]
by Louisa May Alcott
  In addition to her great classics, Louisa Mae Alcott wrote thrillers for the magazines of her time. The Abbott's Ghost is one such action tale. (Published: 1867)

Words: 26165 - Reading Time: 74-104 min.
Category: Classic Literature
1 Reader Ratings:
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