Louisa May Alcott was born in (what is now) Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29th, 1832 as the second of 4 daughters to Bronson Alcott and Abigail May. Louisa’s older sister’s name was Anna and her two younger siblings were named Elizabeth and May. Her mom was a social worker and her dad was an educator.
The family was very poor, so when Louisa was two, they moved to Boston where her father wanted to start a school; but it didn’t work out, so the family moved to Concord, Massachusetts, where Alcott spent her childhood.
As a child, Louisa loved to write..... Especially plays! Her and her sisters would act out the skits that Louisa wrote. Louisa always wanted to be the villain, bad guy, or evil stepmother. Louisa was also a tomboy; as an adult she said, “No boy could be my friend until I had beaten him at a race, and no girl could be my friend unless she wanted to climb trees and jump fences.”
Most of her early education was given to her by her father, but later on she went to a small school in Still Riverside Village. At one point, her family even hosted a school in their barn!
At age 15 her family was extremely poor, so Alcott decided that she’d get a job. For the next 6-7 years, she worked at whatever she could…… teacher, seamstress, governess, and household servant.
In 1849 Louisa published her first book, Flower Fables and she became the first women to have a registered vote in a school board election in Concord, Massachusetts. And in 1860, Alcott began to write for the Atlantic Monthly Magazine.
Then the Civil War broke out and Louisa went down and became a nurse at Union Hospital in Georgetown, D.C. for six weeks in 1862-63.
When she returned home, she revised all the letters she had sent home from D.C. into a book called Hospital Sketches, which was published 1863. One year later Alcott published the book Moods.
During the mid-1860’s Louisa wrote very fiery, compelling novels, like A Long Fatal Love Chase, all under the pen name A. M. Barnard.
Then in 1868, Louisa published the book Little Women written under her own name and is based on her childhood and her sisters. The nest year she published the sequel, Good Wives and in 1871 published a 3rd book to the series called Little Men. Finally, in 1886, Alcott published the last book in the “Little Women” series.
The characters in Little Women are based on Louisa and her sisters. Jo is based on Louisa, Beth is based on Louisa’s little sister Elizabeth; While Amy is based on her little sister May.
Alcott never married, but she raised May’s daughter Lulu after May died of childbed fever.
In all, Louisa May Alcott published over 30 books and collections of stories. She died on March 6, 1888 in Boston of a stroke. Louisa May Alcott is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts.
Fun Fact: Louisa and her family were station masters for the underground railroad for a week in 1847.