Louisa May Alcott

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Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1833 - 1888) was an American fiction writer whose fame rests chiefly on the autobiographical novel Little Women. Written for young readers, the book depicts the lives of four girls - Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy - as they grow up in mid-nineteenth century New England.

She was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the daughter of the transcendentalist Bronson Alcott. The family soon thereafter moved to Massachusetts and it was there, in Boston and Concord, that she spent nearly all the rest of her life. Educated largely at home in accordance with her father's ideas of such matters, Louisa from an early age was immersed in the high-minded culture of the Concord intelligentsia.

The Alcott's were poor and, in order to contribute to the well-being of the family, Louisa took in sewing jobs, engaged in some school-teaching, and wrote, publishing short stories and, in 1855, her first full length novel.

During the first years of the Civil War, Alcott, who was an ardent abolitionist, served as a volunteer nurse with the Union Army. Her experiences in that capacity formed the basis of her next book, a collection of letters published in 1863 as Hospital Sketches. This brought her a first measure of fame.

But her real fame (and financial security) came only with the publication, in 1868, of Little Women. An immediate popular success, it has been, over the years, one of the most enduring and popular books for girls ever written. Its success led to demands for a sequel, and Alcott obliged with a follow-up book, Good Wives which today is usually published along with Little Women as the second part of that book, both going under the same title. This was followed by other books, in the same vein and more or less in the same sequence, including Little Men (1871), and Jo's Boys (1886).