American novelist Louisa May Alcott was a short story writer and poet that was particularly famous for creating colorful and relatable characters and female heroines in her 19th Century novels.
She is best known for her novel Little Women, which depicted women as strong, self-reliant, and imaginative. This novel was an instant success and has maintained its popularity today.
Alcott's Early Life
Born on November 29, 1832, Louisa May Alcott was the second of four children born to Amos Bronson Alcott and Abby May. She identified as a tomboy, and her wild and independent nature caused friction in a family that was run on strict child-rearing and bouts of mental instability.
Her father was unable to provide for the family, so Louisa worked various jobs to help support them. She also sought an outlet in writing.
Alcott's first stories were lurid and violent tales. Between the years 1863 and 1872, Louisa May Alcott wrote over 33 "gothic thrillers" for popular magazines. During this time, she also began writing passionate and sensational stories under the name A.M. Barnard. Among these words are Pauline's Passion and Punishment and A Long Fatal Love Chase.
While staying at the Orchard House, Louisa Alcott wrote and set Little Women in 1868.
Alcott's books for younger readers have remained incredibly popular, and her early works helped to shape modern literature. In 1986, the Ladies Home Journal recognized Alcott as one of the 25 most important women and was one of only three authors listed.
She was also inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1996.
Her home, Orchard House, has been transformed into a historic site that's open to the public.
- Her first novel, Flower Fables, was published at the age of 22. This book was written for Ralph Waldo Emerson's daughter Ellen.
- The American author volunteered as a nurse at the start of the American Civil War.
- Alcott never married, although she raised her niece after her sister Mary died.
- Louisa May grew quite close to her dad over the years. In fact, she died of a stroke just two days after her father died. She is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.