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When the benefactor died, the school closed and the Alcotts moved to Philadelphia briefly, where Bronson ran an unsuccessful day school before returning to Boston in when Louisa was two years old.

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Louisa no doubt was thinking of her father when she said many years later, "My definition of a philosopher is of a man up in a balloon, with his family and friends holding the ropes which confine him to earth and trying to haul him down. In Boston, Bronson established the Temple School in the fall of , named for the Masonic Temple on Tremont Street in Boston in which classes were held, with about 30 students from wealthy families. The school was as controversial as his previous schools, although he managed to continue operating it for seven years.

The group began the philosophical movement of transcendentalism, which believed that people and nature were both inherently good and pure, and that both are corrupted by society and its institutions. Louisa May Alcott was educated mainly by her father, although Thoreau, Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller—all family friends—also gave her lessons. She began writing when she was young, and she and her sisters acted out some of her stories in plays performed for family and friends.

Alcott later wrote about the experience in Transcendental Wild Oats , a satire originally published in a New York newspaper in After seven months, the commune failed; in December, , the Alcotts moved to rented rooms and then back to Hosmer Cottage. The following three years were idyllic and happy ones for Alcott that became the basis of her novel Little Women.

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In , at the age of 15, Louisa had begun working to help support the family, doing any job available, often as a domestic servant or as a teacher. She had vowed to see to it that her family would not remain in poverty. When Bronson moved the family back to Boston in Alcott continued working and but also began submitting her writing to publishers. Many more poems and short stories followed in various publications, including her first book of short stories, Flower Fables , in Emerson bought the family Orchard House, just down the street from Hillside House, their previous house.

Alcott immortalized Lizzie in Little Women as the gentle-natured Beth.


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To comfort her mother and ease difficulty of losing two daughters from the household at once, Alcott moved back in with her family. Alcott continued working in and around Boston, taking any jobs available to women. In , she had began using the pen name A. Barnard to write potboiler melodramas—a few of which were turned into plays and performed in Boston—strictly to earn money. At the outset of the American Civil War , she volunteered to sew clothes and provide other supplies to soldiers. She wrote many letters home about her experiences, which she later edited and fictionalized, although she remained true to her experience.

Hospital Sketches , published in , confirmed her desire to be a serious writer. In , her publisher asked her to write a book for "little girls. The characters and story parallel much of her life and that of her family. The protagonist, Jo March, is a tomboy, just as Alcott was, though by the end of the book she has become a lady.

Her father had died two days before she did.


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Read more about civil war nurses or see our list of famous women of the civil war. Eager to support the North, the budding author volunteered for a fledgling corps of female nurses. Lousia May Alcott, Library of Congress. For generations of Americans, Louisa May Alcott has been revered as the author of Little Women , the semi-autobiographical novel about four sisters living in Concord, Massachusetts, while their father served in the Civil War. In Little Women and its equally popular sequels, Alcott was clearly the model for her heroine, Jo March, the rebellious tomboy who grows up to be a writer.

The real Louisa May Alcott was a much more complex and interesting figure. In addition, she wrote serious novels for adults. Perhaps the least well-known aspect of her surprising career is that she volunteered to serve as a nurse in the Civil War. Abigail's Summer : A Story about Gettysburg. Average rating: 0 out of 5 stars, based on 0 reviews Write a review.

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Louisa May Alcott

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