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The children’s author, Louisa May Alcott

Posted in America, Historical articles, Literature on Friday, 30 September 2011

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This edited article about literature originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 829 published on 3 December 1977.

Louisa May Alcott, picture, image, illustration

Louisa May Alcott worked as a Union nurse during the American Civil War, by John Keay

At Germantown, Pennsylvania on 29th November, 1832, a little girl was born who is remembered today as a writer of much-loved children’s books. Her name was Louisa May Alcott.

Louisa had little formal education. Her father taught her himself. The family did not have much money. As Louisa grew up, it became necessary for her to work as a teacher for a number of years.

It was while she was helping her family in this way that she dreamed of becoming a writer, and in 1855 her first book, Flower Fables, was published. It did not receive much attention.

When the American Civil war broke out, Louisa became a Union Army nurse. Each day, when her shift was over in the wards, she worked on a series of articles called “Hospital Sketches”. These were read with great interest by a large public, for the material was very topical.

It was in 1868, however, that the name Louisa May Alcott became really famous. Her book Little Women was published and was hailed by the critics for its “charm and naturalness”. No doubt one of the reasons for its success was the fact that it was based on the writer’s own experience of growing up in a New England family. Other books followed.

As well as writing, Louisa campaigned for social reform.

She died on 6th March, 1888.

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