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Louisa May Alcott

Born: November 29, 1832
Place: Germantown, Pennsylvania
Died: March 6, 1888
Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Louisa May Alcott Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. When she was a very young child she moved to Boston, Massachusetts, and the Boston area became her home from those days on. Throughout her childhood, the Alcotts had very little money. Her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, was an idealistic philosopher and educator who could never provide the family with a regular source of income. He founded several schools based on his experimental educational philosophies, but none of them were financially successful. Louisa's mother occasionally took in work that provided some financial relief, but the family lived in basic poverty. On the other hand, Louisa benefited from a very unique education. Her father believed strongly in the values of high moral principles, self-reliance, reading, and philosopical discussion, and he devoted much of his time to educating the Alcott children along these lines. When Louisa was eight years old, her family moved just outside Boston to the town of Concord, where they became neighbors of Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Alcotts became close friends of the Emersons, and then with Henry David Thoreau as well. Emerson had a personal library of classical and philosopical works that Louisa May Alcott was free to use. Thoreau provided her with a background in the natural sciences as well as philosophy. The Concord area was a haven for literary greats, and Louisa was influenced not only by Emerson and Thoreau, but also by the likes of James Russell Lowell, Julia Ward, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller. In essence, she was immersed in a world of outstanding teachers, thinkers, and writers.

With such a literary extended family, it was only natural that Louisa May Alcott would turn to writing herself. Her self-confidence in her ability to earn a living by writing was bolstered as she began to see her writings published; first, a poem, then several serial works and sensational short stories that she published in various periodicals under several pseudonyms. She published her first book, Flower Fables, when she turned 22, and then in 1864 she published her first successful novel, Moods. In 1868 Alcott published Little Women; or Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. This novel, now known simply as Little Women, is undoubtedly the book most often associated with Louisa May Alcott. It is now a classic, and highly recommended, especially for young people. Little Women is the story of a New England family with four very spirited girls growing up in the Civil War era. In many ways it is a reflection of Louisa May Alcott's own youth, with a strong theme of the struggles of growing up. Little Women was immediately a popular success, widely praised for its well-developed characters. The popularity of the novel established Louisa May Alcott as a major writer, and allowed her to support her previously-impoverished family. Alcott published several sequels to Little Women, including its most well-known counterpart, Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys.

Louisa May Alcott continued writing throughout her life. She died in Boston on March 6, 1888. She endures as a classic American writer, and her works are still read and enjoyed by millions.

Click here to purchase the classic Little Women directly from Amazon.com. You can also purchase Little Men by clicking here.


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