|Name:||Louisa May Alcott|
|Birth Day:||November 29, 1832|
|Death Date:||Mar 6, 1888 (age 55)|
|Birth Place:||Philadelphia, United States|
American author of the classic novels, Little Women and Little Men. Louisa May Alcott used the pen name A. M. Barnard early in her career and, in her later life, became a well-known feminist and abolitionist.
As per our current Database, Louisa May Alcott died on Mar 6, 1888 (age 55).
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During her youth, Louisa May Alcott worked as a teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic helper, and writer to help support her family. As a child, Louisa May Alcott studied with naturalist author, Henry David Thoreau, as well as with her father.
Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832, in Germantown, 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. As a child, she was a tomboy who preferred boys’ games. The family moved to Boston in 1834, 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 as well as his moments of mental instability shaped young Alcott's mind with a desire to achieve perfection, a goal of the transcendentalists. His attitudes towards Alcott's wild and independent behavior, and his inability to provide for his family, created conflict between Bronson Alcott and his wife and daughters. Abigail resented her husband's inability to recognize her sacrifices and related his thoughtlessness to the larger issue of the inequality of sexes. She passed this recognition and desire to redress wrongs done to women on to Louisa.
In 1840, after several setbacks with the school, the Alcott family moved to a cottage on 2 acres (0.81 ha) of land, situated along the Sudbury River in Concord, Massachusetts. The three years they spent at the rented Hosmer Cottage were described as idyllic. By 1843, the Alcott family moved, along with six other members of the Consociate Family, 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, but had moved on by 1852 when it was sold to Nathaniel Hawthorne who renamed it The Wayside. Moving 22 times in 30 years, the Alcotts returned to Concord once again in 1857 and moved into Orchard House, a two-story clapboard farmhouse, in the spring of 1858.
In 1847 she and her family served as station masters on the Underground Railroad, when they housed a fugitive slave for one week and had discussions with Frederick Douglass. 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, and in 1854 Louisa found solace at the Boston Theatre where she wrote The Rival Prima Donnas, which she later burned due to a quarrel between the actresses on who would play what role. 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 named John Pratt. This felt, to Alcott, to be a breaking up of their sisterhood.
As an adult, Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist. In 1860 Alcott began writing for the Atlantic Monthly. When the American Civil War broke out, she served as a nurse in the Union Hospital in Georgetown, DC, for six weeks in 1862–1863. She intended to serve three months as a nurse, but halfway through she contracted typhoid and became deathly ill, though she eventually recovered. Her letters home—revised and published in the Boston anti-slavery paper Commonwealth and collected as Hospital Sketches (1863, republished with additions in 1869)—brought her first critical recognition for her observations and humor. This was her first book and inspired by her army experience. She wrote about the mismanagement of hospitals and the indifference and callousness of some of the surgeons she encountered, and about her own passion for seeing the war first hand. Her main character, Tribulation Periwinkle, showed a passage from innocence to maturity and is a "serious and eloquent witness". Her novel Moods (1864), based on her own experience, was also promising.
The Alcotts' Concord, MA home, Orchard House (c. 1650), where the family lived for 20 years and where Little Women was written and set in 1868, has been a historic house museum since 1912, and pays homage to the Alcotts by focusing on public education and historic preservation. Her Boston home is featured on the Boston Women's Heritage Trail. Harriet Reisen wrote Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind "Little Women," which later became a PBS documentary directed by Nancy Porter. In 2008, John Matteson wrote Eden's Outcasts - The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Louisa May Alcott was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1996.
In 1877 Alcott was one of the founders of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union in Boston. After her youngest sister May died in 1879, Louisa took over the care of her niece, Lulu, who was named after Louisa. Alcott suffered chronic health problems in her later years, including vertigo. She and her earliest biographers attributed her illness and death to mercury poisoning. During her American Civil War service, Alcott contracted typhoid fever and was treated with a compound containing mercury. Recent analysis of Alcott's illness suggests that her chronic health problems may have been associated with an autoimmune disease, not mercury exposure. However, mercury is a known trigger for autoimmune diseases as well. An 1870 portrait of Alcott does show her cheeks to be quite flushed, perhaps with the "butterfly rash" across cheeks and nose which is often characteristic of lupus, but there is no conclusive evidence available for a firm diagnosis.
In Little Women, Alcott based her heroine "Jo" on herself. But whereas Jo marries at the end of the story, Alcott remained single throughout her life. She explained her "spinsterhood" in an interview with Louise Chandler Moulton, "I am more than half-persuaded that I am a man's soul put by some freak of nature into a woman's body. … because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man.” However, Alcott's romance while in Europe with the young Polish man Ladislas "Laddie" Wisniewski was detailed in her journals but then deleted by Alcott herself before her death. Alcott identified Laddie as the model for Laurie in Little Women. Likewise, every character seems to be paralleled to some extent, from Beth's death mirroring Lizzie's to Jo's rivalry with the youngest, Amy, as Alcott felt a sort of rivalry for (Abigail) May, at times. Though Alcott never married, she did take in May's daughter, Louisa, after May's untimely death in 1879, caring for little "Lulu" for the next eight years.
Alcott died of a stroke at age 55 in Boston, on March 6, 1888, two days after her father's death. Louisa's last known words were, "Is it not meningitis?" She is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, near Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, on a hillside now known as "Authors' Ridge". Her niece Lulu was only eight years old when Louisa died. She was cared for by Anna Alcott Pratt, then reunited with her father in Europe and lived abroad until her death in 1976.
Little Women inspired film versions in 1933, 1949, 1994, 2018, and 2019. The novel also inspired television series in 1958, 1970, 1978, and 2017, and anime versions in 1981 and 1987.
Little Men inspired film versions in 1934, 1940, and 1998. This novel also was the basis for a 1998 television series.
"Since 1975, scholars of Louisa May Alcott have recovered thirty-three hitherto unknown gothic 'thrillers,' as she called them, published anonymously in popular magazines and 'story papers' such as The Flag of Our Union, from 1863-1872." In the mid-1860s Alcott wrote passionate, fiery novels and sensational stories akin to those of English authors Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon 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 books, like those of Collins and Braddon (who also included feminist characters in their writings), are strong, smart, and determined. She also produced stories for children, and after they became popular, she did not go back to writing for adults. Other books she wrote are the novelette A Modern Mephistopheles (1875), which people thought Julian Hawthorne wrote, and the semi-autobiographical novel Work (1873).
Other films based on Alcott novels and stories are An Old-Fashioned Girl (1949), The Inheritance (1997), and An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008). In 2009 PBS produced an American Masters episode titled "Louisa May Alcott – The Woman Behind 'Little Women' ". In 2016 a Google Doodle of the author was created by Google artist Sophie Diao.
A dramatized version of Alcott appeared as a character in the television series Dickinson, in the episode "There's a Certain Slant of Light," which premiered on November 1, 2019. Alcott was portrayed by Zosia Mamet..
Currently, Louisa May Alcott is 189 years, 9 months and 30 days old. Louisa May Alcott will celebrate 190th birthday on a Tuesday 29th of November 2022.
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