“Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.” – Louisa May Alcott
Born in Philadelphia on this date in 1832, Alcott grew up in Massachusetts to become one of America’s iconic writers. While she worked to help support her somewhat impoverished family from an early age, she also sought a career as a writer in her teens and began to receive critical acclaim for her writing before age 30.
An abolitionist and a feminist, Alcott began writing for the Atlantic Monthly but when the Civil War broke out, she served as a nurse in a Union Hospital before contracting typhoid fever and nearly dying. Her letters home – revised and published in the Boston anti-slavery paper Commonwealth and collected as Hospital Sketches – brought her first critical writing recognition and led to her first novel, Moods, based on her own experience. In the mid-1860s, she wrote a series of passionate, fiery novels and sensational stories under the pen name A. M. Barnard, but after the success of Little Women she concentrated her writing on books for children.
Loosely based on her childhood experiences (in Concord, Mass.), Little Women has been rated one of the top 100 books in U.S. history and remains one of America’s most popular. The story also has been filmed many times and brought to the stage in various forms, including on Broadway. It’s been continuously in print for 150 years.
Alcott died of a stroke at age 55 and is buried on “Authors’ Ridge” in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord. Buried near her are 3 other iconic American writers – Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau – all her lifelong friends and mentors.
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