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Louisa May Alcott Biography


(1832-1888) American Writer. Louisa May Alcott's Little Women was perhaps her most popular and successful novel. During the Civil War, she worked briefly as a nurse, until her health made her unable to continue her work. She depicted her experiences in Hospital Sketches.

Louisa May Alcott Birth:

Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832 in Germantown (now Philadelphia), Pennsylvania. She was the second of four girls.

Louisa May Alcott Death:

Louisa May Alcott died on March 6, 1888. She had been poisoned with mercury, from which she had never fully recovered. In 1888, she was ill, and then her final strength was taken by caring for her father in his final days. The date of her death was the same day of her father's funeral. She was buried in Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord.

Louisa May Alcott Education:

Louisa May Alcott was taught mostly by her father, Bronson Alcott. She also attended Still River Village, which was located in the family barn. She also visited Ralph Waldo Emerson's library. Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller were also associated with her father, as fellow Transcendentalists.

Louisa May Alcott Accomplishments:

Louisa May Alcott published "Little Women" in 1868 and 1869. "Little Women," along with its sequels--"Little Men" and "Jo's Boys"--are the works for which she is most well-known. Although she yearned to write "serious" fiction, works like "Little Women" were popular. Her adult fiction includes works like: "Behind a Mask; or, A Woman's Power," "Work: A Story of Experience," and "A Modern Mephistopheles."

Little Women Quotes:

"...for when women are the advisers, the lords of creation don't take the advice till they have persuaded themselves that it is just what they intended to do. Then they act upon it, and, if it succeeds, they give the weaker vessel half the credit of it. If it fails, they generously give her the whole."

"...love is a great beautifier."
"Beth could not reason upon or explain the faith that gave her courage and patience to give up life, and cheerfully wait for death. Like a confiding child, she asked no questions, but left everything to God and nature, Father and Mother of us all, feeling sure that they, and they only, could teach and strengthen heart and spirit for this life and the life to come."
"Money is a needful and precious thing, and when well used, a noble thing, but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I'd rather see you poor men's wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace."
"There are many Beths in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping, and the sweet, sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind."

"I may be strong-minded, but no one can say I'm out of my sphere now, for woman's special mission is supposed to be drying tears and bearing burdens."

"He looked like an Italian, was dressed like an Englishman, and had the independent air of an American--a combination which caused sundry pairs of feminine eyes to look approvingly after him, and sundry dandies in black velvet suits, with rose-colored neckties, buff gloves, and orange flowers in their buttonholes, to shrug their shoulders, and then envy him his inches."

"I never wanted to go away, and the hard part now is the leaving you all. I'm not afraid, but it seems as if I should be homesick for you even in heaven."

"A startled or surprised look from one of you when I spoke sharply rebuked me more than any words could have done, and the love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy."

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