Louisa May Alcott
Biography of Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott was an American novelist. She is best known for the novel Little Women, written and set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts and published in 1868. This novel is loosely based on her childhood experiences with her three sisters.
In 1840, after several setbacks with the school, the Alcott family moved to a cottage 2 acres (8,100 m2) along the Sudbury River in Concord, Massachusetts. The Alcott family moved to the Utopian Fruitlands community for a brief interval in 1843-1844 and then, after its collapse, to rented rooms and finally to a house in Concord purchased with her mother's inheritance and financial help from Emerson. Alcott's early education included lessons from the naturalist Henry David Thoreau. She received the majority of her schooling from her father. She also received some instruction from writers and educators such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller, who were all 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.
As an adult, Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist. In 1847, the family housed a fugitive slave for one week. In 1848 Alcott read and admired the "Declaration of Sentiments" published by the Seneca Falls Convention on women's rights.
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 first book was Flower Fables (1855), a book of tales originally written for Ellen Emerson, daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1860, Alcott began writing for the Atlantic Monthly. She was 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), garnered her first critical recognition for her observations and humor. Her novel Moods (1864), based on her own experience, was also promising.
She also wrote passionate, fiery novels and sensation 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. These works achieved immediate commercial success in their day.
Alcott also produced moralistic and wholesome stories for children, and, with the exceptions of the semi-autobiographical tale Work (1873), and the anonymous novelette A Modern Mephistopheles (1875), which attracted suspicion that it was written by Julian Hawthorne, she did not return to creating works for adults.
Alcott wrote until her death, which was attributed to the after-effects of mercury poisoning contracted during her American Civil War service. She had received calomel treatments for the effects of typhoid. She died in Boston on March 6, 1888 at age 55, two days after visiting her father on his deathbed. Her last words were "Is it not meningitis?"
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Louisa May Alcott Poems
A Little Bird I Am
'A little bird I am, Shut from the fields of air, And in my cage I sit and sing To Him who placed me there:
A little kingdom I possess where thoughts and feelings dwell, And very hard I find the task of governing it well;
The moonlight fades from flower and rose And the stars dim one by one; The tale is told, the song is sung, And the Fairy feast is done.
A Song From The Suds
Queen of my tub, I merrily sing, While the white foam raises high, And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring, And fasten the clothes to dry;
In The Garret
Four little chests all in a row, Dim with dust, and worn by time, All fashioned and filled, long ago,
The Rock And The Bubble
Oh! a bare, brown rock Stood up in the sea, The waves at its feet Dancing merrily.
Now the day is done, Now the shepherd sun Drives his white flocks from the sky; Now the flowers rest
Our Little Ghost
Oft, in the silence of the night, When the lonely moon rides high, When wintry winds are whistling,
In a quiet, pleasant meadow, Beneath a summer sky, Where green old trees their branches waved, And winds went singing by;
Flowers, Dear Flowers, Farewell!
'We are sending you, dear flowers, Forth alone to die, Where your gentle sisters may not weep O'er the cold graves where you lie;
We sighing said, "Our Pan is dead; His pipe hangs mute beside the river Around it wistful sunbeams quiver, But Music's airy voice is fled.
Mysterious death! who in a single hour Life's gold can so refine And by thy art divine Change mortal weakness to immortal power!
From The Short Story A Christmas Dream, ...
From our happy home Through the world we roam One week in all the year, Making winter spring
OPPOSITE my chamber window, On the sunny roof, at play, High above the city's tumult,
Now the day is done,
Now the shepherd sun
Drives his white flocks from the sky;
Now the flowers rest
On their mother's breast,
Hushed by her low lullaby.
Now the glowworms glance,
Now the fireflies dance,