Reading Comprehension - Biography: Author of "Little Women"

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A biography on Louisa May Alcott, notable for writing the hit American classic "Little Women". Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869.

1. Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott

Louisa Alcott

Louisa May Alcom at about age 25

Born November 29, 1832
Germantown, Pennsylvania, United States

Died March 6, 1888 (aged 55)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Pen name ‘A.M. Barnard

‘Occupation | Novelist

Nationality | American
Period Ci War
Genres Prose, Posty
Subjects Young Adul stories

Notable work(s) | Lite Women

Bn os. WO 8S

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 - March 6, 1888) was an American novelist best known as author of the
novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo's Boys. Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May
and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England, she grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day
such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Nevertheless, her family suffered
severe financial difficulties and Alcott worked to help support the family from an early age. She began to receive
critical success for her writing in the 1860s. Early in her career, she sometimes used the pen name A, M, Barnard.
Published in 1868, Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts and is
loosely based on Alcott's childhood experiences with her three sisters. The novel was very well received and is still a
popular children's novel today. Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist. She died in Boston.
Childhood and early work
Alcott was born on November 29, 1832, in Germantown, which is now part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on her
father's 33rd birthday. She was the daughter of transcendentalist and educator Amos Bronson Alcott and social
worker Abby May and the second of four daughters: Anna Bronson Alcott was the eldest; Elizabeth Sewall Alcott
and Abigail May Alcott were the two youngest. The family moved to Boston in 1838."! where Alcott's father
established an experimental school and joined the Transcendental Club with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David

2. Louisa May Alcott

Thoreau. Bronson Alcott’ opinions on education and tough views on child-rearing shaped young Alcott's mind with
a desire to achieve perfection, a goal of the transcendentalists. His attitudes towards Alcott's sometimes wild and
independent behavior, and his inability to provide for his family, sometimes created conflict between Bronson Alcott
and his wife and daughters.
In 1840, after several setbacks with the school, the Alcott family moved to a cottage on 2 acres (8,100 m) of land,
situated along the Sudbury River in Concord, Massachusetts. The three years they spent at the rented Hosmer
Cottage were described as idyllic. By 1843, the Alcott family moved, along with six other members of the
Consociate Family, to the Utopian Fruitlands community for a brief interval in 1843-1844. After the collapse of the
Utopian Fruitlands, they moved on to rented rooms and finally, with Abigail May Alcott's inheritance and financial
help from Emerson, they purchased a house in Concord. They moved into the home they named "Hillside" on April
1, 1845.71
Alcott’: early education included lessons from the naturalist Henry David Thoreau, but she received the majority of
her schooling from her father, who was strict and believed in "the sweetness of self-denial”, She also received some
instruction from writers and educators such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller, all
of whom were family friends. She later described these early years in a newspaper sketch entitled "Transcendental
Wild Oats”. The sketch was reprinted in the volume Silver Pitchers (1876), which relates the family's experiment in
"plain living and high thinking” at Fruitlands.
Poverty made it necessary for Alcott to go to work at an early age as an occasional teacher, seamstress, governess,
domestic helper, and writer. Her sisters also supported the family, working as seamstresses and governesses, while
their mother took on social work among the Irish immigrants. Only the youngest, May, was able to attend public
school. Due to all of these pressures, writing became a creative and emotional outlet for Alcott. Her first book was
Flower Fables (1849), a selection of tales originally written for Ellen Emerson, daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
As an adult, Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist. In 1847, she and her family served as station masters on the
Underground Railroad, when they housed a fugitive slave for one week and in 184g!at?on "eededl s icort read and
admired the "Declaration of Sentiments", published by the Seneca Falls Convention on women's rights, advocating
for women's suffrage and became the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts in a school board
election !*itation needed] The 1850s were hard times for the Alcotts. At one point in 1857, unable to find work and
filled with such despair, Alcott contemplated suicide. During that year, she read Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of
Charlotte Bronté and found many parallels to her own life.!“iat" "*«4e4] 1) 1858, her younger sister Elizabeth died,
and her older sister Anna married a man by the name of John Pratt. This felt, to Alcott, to be a breaking up of their

3. Louisa May Alcott

Literary success
In 1860, Alcott began writing for the Atlantic Monthly. When the
American Civil War broke out, she served as a nurse in the Union
Hospital at Georgetown, D.C., for six weeks in 1862-1863. Her letters
home ~ revised and published in the Commonwealth and collected as
Hospital Sketches (1863, republished with additions in 1869) ~ brought
her first critical recognition for her observations and humor.!<“tio"
needed 1+ as originally written for the Boston anti-slavery paper The
Commonwealth. She speaks out about the mismanagement of hospitals
and the indifference and callousness of some of the surgeons. she
encountered. Her main character Trib showed a passage from
innocence to maturity and is a "serious and eloquent witness". Her
novel Moods (1864), based on her own experience, was also
[eitation needed

Louisa May Alcott
In the mid-1860s, Alcott wrote passionate, fiery novels and sensational
stories under the nom de plume A. M. Barnard. Among these are A
Long Fatal Love Chase and Pauline's Passion and Punishment. Her protagonists for these tales are willful and
relentless in their pursuit of their own aims, which often include revenge on those who have humiliated or thwarted
them, [eitation needed] She also produced wholesome stories for children, and after their positive reception, she did not
generally return to creating works for adults. Adult-oriented exceptions include the anonymous novelette A Modern
Mephistopheles (1875), which attracted suspicion that it was written by Julian Hawthorne; and the
semi-autobiographical tale Work (1873),
Alcott became even more successful with the publication by the Roberts Brothers of the first part of Little Women:
or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (1868), a semi-autobiographical account of her childhood with her sisters in Concord,
Massachusetts. Part two, or Part Second, also known as Good Wives (1869), followed the March sisters into
adulthood and their respective marriages. Little Men (1871) detailed Jo's life at the Plumfield School that she
founded with her husband Professor Bhaer at the conclusion of Part Two of Little Women. Jo's Boys (1886)
completed the "March Family Saga"
In Little Women, Alcott based her heroine "Jo" on herself. But whereas Jo marries at the end of the story, Alcott
remained single throughout her life. She explained her "spinsterhood” in an interview with Louise Chandler
Moulton, "Iam more than half-persuaded that I am a man’s soul put by some freak of nature into a woman's body
because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man.” However, Alcott’s
romance while in Europe with the young Polish man Ladislas "Laddie" Wisniewski was detailed in her journals but
then deleted by Alcott herself before her death.!“#" "eed a 1cott identified Laddie as the model for Laurie in
Little Women, and there is strong evidence this was the significant emotional relationship of her life. Likewise, every
character seems to be paralleled to some extent, from Beth's death mirroring Lizzie's to Jo's rivalry with the
youngest, Amy, as Alcott felt a sort of rivalry for May, at times.!*!4! Though Alcott never married, she did take in
May's daughter, Louisa, after May's death in 1879 from childbed fever, caring for little "Lulu" until her death
Little Women was well received, with critics and audiences finding it suitable for many age groups. A reviewer of
Eclectic Magazine called it "the very best of books to reach the hearts of the young of any age from six to sixty,”. It
janual of Style/Words to watch#Unsupported attributions to be a fresh, natural
[citation needed

was also. saidWikipedia:\
representation of daily life

4. Louisa May Alcott

Alcott, along with Elizabeth Stoddard, Rebecca Harding Davis, Anne
Moneure Crane, and others, were part of a group of female authors
during the Gilded Age, who addressed women's issues in a modern and
candid manner. Their works were, as one newspaper columnist of the

period commented, "among the decided 'signs of the time:
Later years
Alcott, who continued to write until her death, suffered chronic health
problems in her later years,'®!
including vertigo. She and her earliest
biographers attributed her illness and death to mercury poisoning.
During her American Civil War service, Alcott contracted typhoid
fever and was treated with a compound containing mercury. Recent
analysis of Alcotts illness, however, suggests that her chronic health
problems may have been associated with an autoimmune disease, not

acute mercury exposure. Moreover, a late portrait of Alcott shows Louisa May Aleot’s grave in Sleepy Hollow
rashes on her cheeks, which is a characteristic of lupus.!”! ‘Cemetery, Concord, Massachusets,
Alcott died at age 55 of a stroke in Boston, on March 6, 1888, two days
after her father's death. Her last words were "Is it not meningitis?""! She is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in
Concord,!! near Emerson,""°! Hawthorne," and Thoreau,!7! on a hillside now known as "Authors' Ridge"
Selected works
* The Inheritance (1849, unpublished until 1997)
+ Flower Fables (1849)
* Hospital Sketches (1863)
* The Rose Family: A Fairy Tale (1864)
+ Moods (1865, revised 1882)
+ Morning-Glories and Other Stories (1867)
+ The Mysterious Key and What It Opened "'3) (1867)
* Little Women or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (1868)
* Three Proverb Stories (includes "Kitty's Class Day”, "Aunt
Kipp’ and "Psyche’s Art") (1868)
+ A Strange Island "*!, (1868)
* Part Second of Little Women, also known as "Good Wives”
* Perilous Play!"*!, (1869)
+ An Old Fashioned Girl (1870)
+ Will's Wonder Book (1870)
+ Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boy
+ Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag (1872-1882)
+ "Transcendental Wild Oats” (1873)
+ Work: A Story of Experience (1873)
* Eight Cousins or The Aunt-Hill (1875)
+ Beginning Again, Being a Continuation of Work (1875)

Louisa May Alcon

5. Louisa May Alcott

+ Silver Pitche
* Rose in Bloom: A Sequel to Eight Cousins (1876)
+ Under the Lilacs (1878)
+ Jack and Jill: A Village Story (1880)
+ The Candy Country (1885)
+ Jo's Boys and How They Turned Out: A Sequel to "Little Men"
+ Lulu's Library (1886-1889)
* A Garland for Girls (1888)
* Comic Tragedies (1893 [posthumously])

;, and Independence: A Centennial Love Story"
AsA. M. Barnard
* Behind a Mask, or a Woman's Power (1866)
* The Abbot's Ghost, or Maurice Treheme's Temptation (1867)
+ A Long Fatal Love Chase (1866 ~ first published 1995)

First published anonymously
+ A Modern Mephistopheles (1877)

Bust of Louisa May Alcott
[1] Obituary: Louisa May Alcott, New York Times, Match 7, 18

“The obituary indicates thatthe family moved to Boston when Alcott was 6
fore in 1838-9, This is supported by the United States Census, 1850, which records that her you!
in Massachusetts and was aged 15 (therefore born around 1835) atthe time of the census,
[2] Matteson, John, Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007: 174 ISBN
[B] "Louisa May Alcon: The Woman Behind Little Women,” Harriet Reisen, 2009
[4] Little Women Introduction, Penguin Classics, 1989, ISBN 0-14.039069-3,
[5] “Review 2
[6] Maura Lerner, "A diagnosis, 119 years after death," (hp:// web. archive.
lifestyleshealth/11343301.huml) Star Tribune, August 12, 2007.
7] Hirschhorn and Greaves (2007), pp. 243-259.
years old, the

sister, Elizabeth, was born

No Tile” from The Radical, May 1868, see References below

[8]. (http://www. ~ Famous Last Words
[9] Find a Grave, Louisa May Alcott (hitp//www.findagrave.convegi-bin/ LGRid=14); accessed 2012.12.13.
[10] Find a Grave, Ralph Waldo Emerson (htp:/Awww.find :S¢GRid=320); accessed 2012.12.13.
[11] Find a Grave, Nathaniel Hawthorne (htip/www.findagrave.conveg 1&GRid=A59); accessed 2012.13.12.
1030); accessed 2012.12.13,

[12] Find a Grave, Henry David Thoreau (hnp://ww. find:
[13] upd
[14] hupy/www luminist org/archives/a_strange_iskand.htm

pital Library
[15] hup//www him

May Alcott 6

* Shealy, Daniel, Editor. "Alcott in Her Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of Her Life, Drawn from
Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends and Associates." University of lowa Press, Iowa City,
Towa, 2005. ISBN 0-87745-938-X.
No Title” from The Radical (1865-1872). May 1868. American Periodical Series 1740 — 1900.
( query Syntax=P Q&searchInterface=1&
moreOptState=OPEN&TS=I 170259771 &h_pubtitle=&h_pmid=&clienthd=2281 &JSEnabled=1 &SQ=Anne+
Moncure+Crane&DBId=5197 &onDate=&beforeDate=8 fromDate=&toDate=&pubtitle=&author=8&
AT=any& STYPE=all& FT= 1 &sortby=CHRON&searchB uttonlmage.x=0&-searchButtonlmage.y=0) (link is,
password only) (January 29, 2007)

+ "Review 2

Further reading

Library resources

‘About Louisa May Alcott

. Online books (hup://
. Resources in your library (htp:/ su=29528997)
‘+ Resources in other libraries (hutp!/tools.

By Louisa May Alcott

. Online books (hutp2/tools. fl ’at=vial&eau=295289976ibrary=OLBP)
. Resources in your library (hup2/tools.
+ Resources in other libraries (htp:// fl? at=vial&eau=295289978 library

+ Eiselein, Gregory and Anne K. Phillips (eds.) (2001). The Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia. Greenwood Press;
online in ebrary.
+ LaPlante, Eve (2012). Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother. Free Press.
ISBN 1-45 1-62066-7.
* Larson, Rebecca D. (1997). White roses: stories of Civil War nurses. Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications.
ISBN 1577470117. OCLC 38981206 (,
* MacDonald, Ruth K. (1983). Louisa May Alcott. Twayne. ISBN 0-8057-7397-5.
* Matteson, John (2007). Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father. Norton.
ISBN 978-0-393-05964-9.
+ Myerson, Joel; Daniel Shealy, Madeleine B. Stern (1987). The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott. Little,
Brown. ISBN 0-316-59361-3.
+ Myerson, Joel; Daniel Shealy, Madeleine B. Stern (1989). The Journals of Louisa May Alcott. Little, Brown.
ISBN 0-316-59362-1
* Reisen, Harriet. Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind ‘Little Women
* Saxton, Martha (1977). Louisa May: A Modern Biography of Louisa May Alcott. Houghton Mifflin.
ISBN 0-395-25720-4.

7. Louisa May Alcott

External links
* Works by or about Louisa May Alcott ( php?query=mediaty pe:(texts)
-contributor:gutenberg AND (subject:"Alcott, Louisa May, 1832-1888" OR subject:"Alcott, L.M.(Louisa May),
1832-1888" OR subject:"Alcott, Louisa M.(Louisa May), 1832-1888" OR subject:" Alcott, Louisa May” OR
subject" Alcott, L.M.(Louisa May)" OR subject:" Alcott, Louisa M.(Louisa May)" OR subject:"Louisa May
Alcott” OR subject:"Louisa M.Alcott" OR subject:"L.M.Alcott" OR creator:" Alcott, Louisa May, 1832-1888"
OR creator:" Alcott, Louisa May, Sir, 1832-1888" OR creator:"Alcott, L.M.(Louisa May), 1832-1888" OR
creator:"Alcott, Louisa M.(Louisa May), 1832-1888" OR creator:"Alcott, Louisa May” OR creator:"Alcott, L.M.
(Louisa May)" OR creator:" Alcott, Louisa M.(Louisa May)" OR creator:"Louisa May Alcott" OR
creator:"Louisa M.Alcott" OR creator:"L.M. Alcott” OR title:"Louisa May Alcott” OR title:"Louisa M.Alcott”
OR title:"L.M. Alcott” OR description:"Louisa May Alcott” OR description:"Louisa M.Alcott” OR
description:"L.M.Aleott” OR description:" Alcott, Louisa May" OR description: Alcott, L.M.(Louisa May)"
OR description:"Alcott, Louisa M.(Louisa May)")) at Internet Archive (scanned books original editions color
+ Works by Louisa May Alcott ( at Project Gutenberg
* Works by Louisa May Alcott ( webbin/book/search?author=A|cott,+
Louisa&amode=start) at Online Books Page
+ Works by Louisa May Alcott ( at Project Gutenberg
* Audio books of Louisa May Alcott's works (https://catalog.librivox. org/search.php “title=8author=Louisa+
May-+Alcott&status=all &action=Search) at LibriVox
* Index entry for Louisa May Alcott ( at Poets’ Comer
* Bibliography ( (including primary works and
information on secondary literature ~ critical essays, theses and dissertations)
* Works by or about Louisa May Alcott ( 17152) in libraries (WorldCat
Archival Materials
* Guide to Louisa May Alcott papers, MS Am 800.23 ( Hough:hou00659) at
Houghton Library (, Harvard University
* Guide to Louisa May Alcott additional papers, 1839-1888, MS Am 2114 (
Hough:hou00446) at Houghton Library (, Harvard University
* Guide to Louisa May Alcott additional papers, 1845-1945, MS Am 1817 (
Hough:hou01297) at Houghton Library (, Harvard University
* Guide to Louisa May Alcott additional papers, 1849-1887, MS Am 1130.13 (
urn-3:FHCL, Hough:hou00057) at Houghton Library (, Harvard
+ The Louisa May Alcott Society (http://www. personal.!
LMAS welcome.htm) A scholarly organization devoted to her life and works.
* Louisa May Alcott, the real woman who wrote Little Women (http://www alcottfilm.comy). A web site about
Louisa May Alcott which will be the foundation for a documentary film, published media and educational
* Obituary, NY Times, March 7, 1888, Louisa M. Alcott Dead (
onthisday/bday/1 129.html)
+ Minneapolis Tribune, March 7, 1888, OB/TUARY: Miss Louisa M. Alcott (hitp://
oldnews/archives/ 175)

8. Louisa May Alcott

* Biographical information (http://www
* Encyclopaedia Britannica, Louisa May Alcott (http://www. 13467)

9. Article Sources and Contributors

Article Sources and Contributors