Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) – A servant, seamstress, teacher and Civil War Nurse, Alcott’s fame came as an author. Born on November 29, 1832 in Germantown, Pennsylvania, Louisa was one of four daughters. She moved with her family to Boston when she was just two years old. As a young girl, the family moved again to Concord, Massachusetts. Growing up in a Transcendentalist household, the environment was both intellectual and non-conventional, fostering her love of writing. Receiving her education primarily from her father, Bronson Alcott, it was furthered by her father’s friends, people such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Fuller.
Louisa May Alcott is widely known as the writer of Little Women, a self reflective children’s book published in 1868. The success of this book led to other books based on Alcott’s life such as Little Men and Jo’s Boys, the money from which helped to support her sisters and parents.
As she grew older, she developed as both an abolitionist and a feminist. She volunteered to be a nurse in an army hospital in Washington, D.C. during the Civil War, where she contracted typhoid fever. Later she would become an advocate of women’s suffrage, and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts.
As she grew older, her health worsened, but she continued to write up until the end. She finally died of mercury poisoning which she contracted when she received calomel treatments for the effects of typhoid. She died in Boston on March 6, 1888 at age 56, and was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, in Concord.
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, August, 2017.