Louisa May Alcott
Author of “Little Men” and “Little Women”
1832 – 1888 A.D.
Her father was the noted A. Bronson Alcott, the “Sage of Concord,” and intimate friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Her early surroundings were of highly intellectual and literary character, and she naturally took to writing while yet very young.
In her sketch Transcendental Wild Oats, she describes in an amusing way the experiences of a year at Fruitlands, where an attempt was made to establish an ideal community.
She was obliged to be a wage earner to help out the family income and so taught school, served as a governess, and even did work as a seamstress.
Weary of this, she wrote for the papers stories of a sensational nature, which were remunerative from a financial point of view. Her conscience was not easy in this matter, and she abandoned it. For a time she served as a nurse in a Washington hospital, but her health failed owing to overwork.
Upon her recovery she secured a position as an attendant to an invalid lady and traveled to Europe. After several more attempts in literary lines, she wrote Little Women, which was an immediate success. It reached a sale of 87,000 copies in three years. She wrote from the heart and wove into the story incidents from the lives of herself and her three sisters at Concord. She then wrote An Old Fashioned Girl and Little Men. For the latter the publishers received advance orders for 50,000 copies. Some of her other works are, Aunt Jo’s Scrap Bag, in six volumes, Modern Mephistopheles, Proverb Stories, Spinning Wheel Stories, Jo’s Boys, A Garland for Girls, and Hospital Sketches, the last record of her own experiences in ministering to the sick and wounded.
Miss Alcott had ambition and ability for a high grade of literary work. She found her success as a writer of children’s stories. Her receipts from the books she had written amounted to $8,000 in six months of the year in 1888, and yet she declared that she was more proud of the first $32 she received for her work, than the $8,000.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.