November 29,1832–March 6,1888
Louisa May Alcott was an early writer of realistic stories for young adults. She “attacks the false fronts and manners of people behaving conventionally and making a great show of politeness when they are actually backbiting,” in the estimate of Emily Neville. “In Louisa May Alcott's books there is a variety of very short personal descriptions of people and very accurate conversations and detailed descriptions of people, mixed sometimes with very sentimental moralizing.”
Alcott was the daughter of philosopher and educator Amos Bronson Alcott and his wife, Abigail. She grew up in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts. She received lessons at home from her father and from neighbors such as essayist Henry David Thoreau, poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, and theologian Theodore Parker. The Alcotts had little money, and Louisa and her three sisters were accustomed to hard work around the home.
Alcott took jobs as a teacher, seamstress, and servant. She began to write for publication in 1848. Most of her stories were melodramatic tales that earned her five or ten dollars each. She also edited Merry's Museum, a children's magazine.
During the Civil War, she served as an army nurse in Washington, D.C. The experience marred her health, and she had to return home. Sketches written of the hospital in which she served were published and became well known.
Little Women is her best-remembered work. “She found all the material at hand in recollections of her own childhood,” said Humphrey Carpenter and Mari Prichard. “Amy, Jo, Beth, and Meg are portraits