Louisa May Alcott

Born: 1832

Birthplace: Pennsylvania

Died: 1888

Louisa May Alcott is an American writer that created works of fiction for young people. Alcott focused on the issues of her time and was an advocate for a women’s right to vote.

Alcott was also against drinking alcohol. Both of these topics are often woven into the books that she wrote. Most well-known of her works are “Little Women,” “Little Men,” “An Old-Fashioned Girl,” “Work,” and “Silver Pitchers.”

  • Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, Alcott’s father was a philosopher and educator. She had three sisters, and since her father didn’t understand the idea of responsibility for a family, they were rather poor. However, he did support women’s rights and was a strong opponent of slavery. Her father had many well-known friends, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Parker, and Margaret Fuller. These friends played a great role in Alcott’s life as they contributed to her education, intellect, and sense of humor.
  • Her father relocated the family to Boston, Massachusetts, and founded a school that failed. They then moved to Concord, Massachusetts. Alcott and her sisters worked a number of jobs to support the family. When she was 16, she wrote the book “Flower Fables,” which was published six years later. During this time, Alcott also wrote many plays that were never published.
  • Her stories received some attention and were published in the “Atlantic Monthly” in 1860. When the Civil War broke out, Alcott was a nurse for as long as she could do it until she started to get sick. She covered her experiences in her book “Hospital Sketches,” which became popular at the time.
  • Alcott published a less than successful novel in 1865 called “Moods,” and then accepted a job as editor of a juvenile magazine called Merry’s Museum in 1867. It was at this time that Alcott wrote her first volume of “Little Women.” This book was a positive story about her childhood and that of her sisters. The book became a success, and in 1869 she published a second volume. The money that she earned allowed her family to be able to have a comfortable life.
  • She had found both an audience and a type of storytelling that worked, and she continued to publish the books of “An Old-fashioned Girl,” “Little Men,” and “Work.” Now that she was a more notable figure in society, she took this opportunity to support the women’s suffrage movement that supported women’s voting rights as well as talking about the dangers of alcohol.
  • By 1876 Alcott was touring in Europe, and she wrote: “Silver Pitchers,” which was a collection of works including the story of the failed communal group that her father had tried to start in a story called “Transcendental Wild Oats.”
  • Alcott continued to write for the rest of her life, producing one book almost every year. She had developed a large group of readers that followed her from around the world. Her books always had a message as well as an uplifting sense of positivity and humor. “Little Women” is often part of required reading in many school systems.
  • Alcott was never angry at her father for being less than supportive of their family. However, she did understand that it was she and her sisters that maintained the life that they led.
  • Alcott died in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1888. Her books continue to be read by millions and have been made into multiple movies.


What was the failed profession of Louisa May Alcott’s father?

What two social topics did Alcott support?
Women’s right to vote and against drinking alcohol

What was Alcott’s first published book called?
Little Women

Who were some of Alcott’s father’s influential friends that also influenced her style of writing?
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Parker, and Margaret Fuller

What job did Alcott take on during the Civil War?

What book did Alcott write that was based on her experiences during the Civil War?
Hospital Sketches