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Louisa May Alcott

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Louisa May Alcott

  • Khazeni, A. et al. 2013: ATEFEH KHAZENI, PETER H. ADLER, ZAKIEH TELMADAREIIY, MOHAMMAD ALI OSHAGHI1,*, HASAN VATANDOOST, SEYED MOHAMMAD ABTAHI & ABOLFAZL LOTFI (2013)The Black Flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) of Iran. Zootaxa, 3694(1) 067–074.  
Louisa Alcott
Louisa May Alcott at about age 25
Born (1832-11-29)November 29, 1832
Germantown, Pennsylvania, United States
Died March 6, 1888(1888-03-06) (aged 55)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Pen name A. M. Barnard
Occupation Novelist[1]
Nationality American
Period Civil War
Genre Prose, Poetry
Subject Young Adult stories
Notable works Little Women

Signature

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) was an American novelist best known as author of the novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo's Boys.[2] Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England, she grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau.

Nevertheless, her family suffered severe financial difficulties and Alcott worked to help support the family from an early age. She began to receive critical success for her writing in the 1860s. Early in her career, she sometimes used the pen name A. M. Barnard. With her pen name Louisa wrote novels for young adults in juvenile hall.

Published in 1868, Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts and is loosely based on Alcott's childhood experiences with her three sisters. The novel was very well received and is still a popular children's novel today. Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist. She died in Boston on March 6, 1888.

Childhood and early work

Alcott was born on November 29, 1832,[2] in Germantown,[2] which is now part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on her father's 33rd birthday. She was the daughter of transcendentalist and educator Amos Bronson Alcott and social worker Abby May and the second of four daughters: Anna Bronson Alcott was the eldest; Elizabeth Sewall Alcott and Abigail May Alcott were the two youngest. The family moved to Boston in 1838,[3] where Alcott's father established an experimental school and joined the Transcendental Club with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Bronson Alcott's opinions on education and tough views on child-rearing shaped young Alcott's mind with a desire to achieve perfection, a goal of the transcendentalists.[4] His attitudes towards Alcott's sometimes wild and independent behavior, and his inability to provide for his family, sometimes created conflict between Bronson Alcott and his wife and daughters.[4]

In 1840, after several setbacks with the school, the Alcott family moved to a cottage on 2 acres (8,100 m2) of land, situated along the Sudbury River in Concord, Massachusetts. The three years they spent at the rented Hosmer Cottage were described as idyllic.[5] By 1843, the Alcott family moved, along with six other members of the Consociate Family,[4] to the Utopian Fruitlands community for a brief interval in 1843–1844. After the collapse of the Utopian Fruitlands, they moved on to rented rooms and finally, with Abigail May Alcott's inheritance and financial help from Emerson, they purchased a homestead in Concord. They moved into the home they named "Hillside" on April 1, 1845.[6]

Louisa May Alcott

Alcott's early education included lessons from the naturalist Henry David Thoreau, but she received the majority of her schooling from her father, who was strict and believed in "the sweetness of self-denial".[4] She also received some instruction from writers and educators such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller, all of whom were 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.

Poverty made it necessary for Alcott to go to work at an early age as a teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic helper, and writer. Her sisters also supported the family, working as seamstresses, while their mother took on social work among the Irish immigrants. Only the youngest, May, was able to attend public school. Due to all of these pressures, writing became a creative and emotional outlet for Alcott.[4] Her first book was Flower Fables (1849), a selection of tales originally written for Ellen Emerson, daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

As an adult, Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist. In 1847, she and her family served as station masters on the Underground Railroad, when they housed a fugitive slave for one week and in 1848 Alcott read and admired the "Declaration of Sentiments", published by the Seneca Falls Convention on women's rights, advocating for women's suffrage and became the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts in a school board election. The 1850s were hard times for the Alcotts. At one point in 1857, unable to find work and filled with such despair, Alcott contemplated suicide. During that year, she read Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Brontë and found many parallels to her own life. In 1858, her younger sister Elizabeth died, and her older sister Anna married a man by the name of John Pratt. This felt, to Alcott, to be a breaking up of their sisterhood.[4]

Literary success

Louisa May Alcott

In 1860, Alcott began writing for the 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) – brought her first critical recognition for her observations and humor.date=__DATE__ It was originally written for the Boston anti-slavery paper The Commonwealth. She speaks out about the mismanagement of hospitals and the indifference and callousness of some of the surgeons she encountered. Her main character Trib showed a passage from innocence to maturity and is a "serious and eloquent witness".[4] Her novel Moods (1864), based on her own experience, was also promising.date=__DATE__

In the mid-1860s, Alcott wrote passionate, fiery novels and sensational 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. She also produced wholesome stories for children, and after their positive reception, she did not generally return to creating works for adults. Adult-oriented exceptions include the anonymous novelette A* Khazeni, A. et al. 2013: ATEFEH KHAZENI, PETER H. ADLER, ZAKIEH TELMADAREIIY, MOHAMMAD ALI OSHAGHI1,*, HASAN VATANDOOST, SEYED MOHAMMAD ABTAHI & ABOLFAZL LOTFI (2013)The Black Flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) of Iran. Zootaxa, 3694(1) 067–074.  

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