Early Life of Louisa May Alcott
Her Parents and Sisters
Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, U.S. She was born in a family of educator and philosopher father Bronson Alcott and a very kind-hearted mother Abigail May Alcott. She had three sisters: – Abigail May Alcott Nieriker, Elizabeth Sewall Alcott, and Anna Alcott Pratt.
Her father was unable to maintain their poor family and with continuous shifting and moving the education of the girls was not a success. In 1834, Louisa’s father founded a temple school in Boston Massachusetts to perpetuate his methods of teaching. But the school failed and the family moved to Concord, Massachusetts in 1840.
Her father was a supporter of women’s rights and opposed the practice of slavery. His friends were brilliant minds of the era including Margaret Fuller (1810–1850), Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), Theodore Parker (1810–1860) and Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).
The family became very good friends with the visitors and the sisters were even tutored by them. The intellectual richness and their poverty helped Louisa in developing her sense of writing and great humour.
The sister’s education was majorly under their father, for a period in his temple school too. After their father realized that he was unable to fulfil the basic needs of his family and failed a utopian community which he founded, Louisa decided to manage a living.
She taught students, used to do domestic work, and also sold various stories written by her in different journals. And eventually, the path led her to publish her various successful novels.
The literary career of Louisa May Alcott
As she grew older, she developed the qualities of feminism and abolitionism in herself and prepared herself to live in a world of males. She used to work as an occasional teacher, domestic helper, seamstress and writer. She did everything she could to survive her family. An in 1854 her first book was published which was originally written for Ralph Waldo Emerson’s daughter Ellen.
In 1860, Atlantic Monthly started publishing her work while she was working at a union hospital as a nurse at Georgetown, D.C. Even her letters to home were a promising publication as Moods in 1864 in Commonwealth magazine.
She published her first poem ‘sunlight’ in a magazine under a pseudonym. As expressed in her autobiographical account her mother was not very much fond of her writing for magazines and there she used the cover of a pseudonym.
Civil War and Louisa May Alcott
At the time of the Civil War, she worked at the Union hospital but caught typhoid fever. Despite the weakness through the fever she didn’t stop working and her continuous work as a nurse and a patient amused the people at the hospital and inspired the novel hospital sketches.
Her audience was not limited to her age but children as well as elders. Some of her works had been published under the name A.M. Barnard. Her works majorly concerned about the power of women and eventually leading to a very practical end.
Her writing style was mostly violent tales. Her works were considered unusual and impractical by the publications as the men believed that the plot of women dying for the country was not appropriate.
The depiction of women as self-reliant, employed, strong were very extremist approach and therefore much of her works were either not published or she was forced to change the ending of the stories which eventually led to the marriage of the women.
Even after the American Civil War she applied for the post of a nurse at the Union hospital but was sent back home as she caught a typhoid fever again. She was not blessed with good health. Her stories started printing in the Atlantic Monthly. Soon her family’s needs were increasing and therefore she wrote he most famous novel Little Women.
It is an autobiographical account of Louisa May Alcott published in 1868. She has beautifully expressed her feminist views in light of the four different personalities Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.
She has painted a subtle yet powerful picture of domestic struggles women have to face. An era where the marriage was supposed to be the eventual destiny of any woman, Louisa questioned the power of men in society and places herself out in society to struggle for money and life.
Her belief of marriage being an economic proposition has been bluntly stated in the novel which questions the right of women and her economic stability in a marriage. With her passion to write and to become one of a kind, her life takes her to various phases which he has penned in Little Women.
Alcott shifted to Europe with her sister May during 1870 and published another of her classics Little Men. There she published, other classic Little Men. She also became a part of the women’s suffrage movement. Also, see other activists like Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Dame Millicent Garett Fawcett, Emily Pankhurst: A leader of the women’s suffrage movement
Through her most of the publication, she promoted the rights of women and their own identity in society. She became the first woman to register for vote in Concord, Connecticut.
Her other major successes were The Inheritance (1849, unpublished until 1997), Moods (1865, revised 1882), The Mysterious Key and What It Opened (1867), An Old Fashioned Girl (1870), Will’s Wonder Book (1870), Work: A Story of Experience (1873), Beginning Again, Eight Cousins or The Aunt-Hill (1875), Rose in Bloom: A Sequel to Eight Cousins (1876), and Proverb Stories (1882).
After her mother’s death in 1887 due to a long illness, and her sister May died in 1879. After the loss, she adopted her late sister’s daughter, lulu. Her namesake Louisa May Nieriker was the new hope in her life.
Marriage and children
She never married nor had children. She claimed to be free without any marriage restriction of her giving life. She founded the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union in Boston in 1887.
She started a school to promote women education and wrote another set of novels on women’s rights. She was a promoter of education but her health was not blessed. She soon started facing acute health problems which were at times unidentifiable.
Death of Louisa Alcott
Louisa Alcott died due to a stroke in Boston. The 55-year-old author left us on 6 march 1888 two days after her father’s death.
She is buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in concord near her sisters on a hillside known as ‘Authors Ridge’. Her niece lulu was eight years at her demise and later was sent with her other sister and after that reunited with her father. She lived in abroad until she died in 1976.