Louisa May Alcott

Born: 1832
Place of Birth: Pennsylvania
Died: 1888

Louisa May Alcott was famous for her book “Little Women,” but was also author of a number of other novels that were well-received during her time.

Her stories were successful even during an era when women weren’t considered to be good authors.

Alcott had an incredible way of seeing things in life and this is probably due to the fact that she was surrounded by influential poets and writers as she grew up.

  • Alcott was both in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1832, the daughter of a teacher that held controversial views. The family relocated to Massachusetts when she was two years old and over the years Louisa May had three sisters. Her siblings and their lives are the basis for many of the books that she wrote.
  • People in the arts are drawn to each other’s company and for Louisa May’s family this meant that they had friends that surrounded them that were writers and poets. Alcott’s father had established a school and it was very common for their family friends to be at their house including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathanial Hawthorne. These talented people were heavily involved in her education and helped her to understand some of the basics of writing.
  • Alcott’s mother was a great influence over her and although the family lived comfortably, Louisa May ended up going to work when she was still rather young. Alcott did sewing, teaching, and chores in homes while also devoting her spare time to writing. She had her first book published in 1848, “Flower Fables.”
  • The Alcott family held very specific anti-slavery ideas and were abolitionists. Louisa May also believed that women should be equal and allowed to vote in elections. These concepts were still considered to be a bit controversial in her day. The family joined the “Underground Railroad” in 1847, letting a runaway slave hide in their house for a week. Alcott’s ideals about women’s rights gave her the unique opportunity to be the first woman that voted in Concord, Massachusetts.
  • Alcott wrote for a newspaper in 1860 as well as worked as a nurse during the Civil War. During her time as a nurse she contracted typhoid and had to stop. The letters that she wrote home were published in newspapers and publications and they were the start of her fame. Readers enjoyed her unique ability to blend humor with her observations.
  • Louisa May wrote a number of incredible stories. While she wrote more adult novels such as “A Long Fatal Love Chase,” it was her books for children that captured the hearts of people. Her story “Little Women” was published in 1868 and it was such a hit that she continued the saga of the family with four sisters with her 1871 “Little Men,” and in 1886, “Jo’s Boys.” All were stories of the four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March which were based on her own family. She also continued the story of Little Women in 1869 with “Good Wives.” She finished the series of the story of the sisters with “March Family Saga.” Alcott continued her novels with “Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, Under the Lilacs, and Jack and Jill.”
  • People of all ages enjoyed Alcott’s stories and many felt that as they read them, they could related to how each character felt.
  • Louisa May Alcott died at aged 55 years of a stroke in 1888 in Boston, Massachusetts.


What was the name of the book that Louisa May Alcott was most well-known for writing?
Little Women

What were most of Alcott’s stories about?
A family and their four daughters/her own family with her three sisters

How did Louisa May Alcott become famous?
Having her letters to home published in newspapers during the Civil War

Who were three well-known writers/poets that helped to educate Alcott and influence her writing?
Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathanial Hawthorne

Alcott held controversial ideas about two subjects during her day?
Abolitionism and women’s rights

What unique opportunity did Louisa May Alcott have in Concord, Massachusetts?
The first woman allowed to vote