Louisa May Alcott, who lived in the Victorian era, was a woman ahead her time. When a child, she vowed to do everything possible and impossible in order to become rich and contribute to the wealth of her family. Her decision to never marry violated the standards existing in the society of those times.
Even though Louisa Alcott didn’t have a family of her own, she managed to build a successful career as a writer. Apart from writing books, short stories and fairytales, she actively participated in the movement fighting for the rights of women. Inspired by the desire to help people, she became a nurse during the Civil War. She also helped slaves who escaped from their masters because she believed that slavery should be eliminated.
Today, we decided to share with our readers 8 interesting facts about the life and personality of Louisa May Alcott. Let’s see what they are…
Louisa May Alcott: 8 interesting facts about the author of “Little Women”
1. Louisa May Alcott had many famous friends
Louisa Alcott was born in November 1832 to Bronson Alcott and Abby May. Two years after her birth, the family moved to Boston where her father joined the Transcendental Club and established an experimental school. Since early childhood, the girl was striving for perfection. This desire is believed to have been inspired by her father’s views on education and the role of women in society.
Louisa was friendly with many outstanding persons of those times including Ralph Waldo Emmerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry Longfellow, an interesting fact about Louisa Alcott. One of her closest female friends was Margaret Fuller, with whom she often discussed the issue of women rights.
2. Louisa May Alcott took up different jobs to earn money
Alcott’s family had serious financial issues. Abby May despised her husband because he was unable to earn money for the family that included 4 little girls. Driven by the desire to fix the situation, Louisa took up different jobs that provided a stable income. She was good at sewing various types of clothes and cleaning houses of those belonging to a higher class. She also gave private lessons as a tutor.
3. She was a feminist
Margaret Fuller wasn’t the only person who contributed to Louisa’s becoming a feminist. In fact, her own mother often spoke about the inequality of sexes and injustice that women faced with. This shaped Louisa’s views as a feminist. Throughout all her life, she fought for the rights of women and stayed unmarried.
4. Louisa Alcott’s first books and stories were published under a pen-name
Apparently, Louisa didn’t believe that her books and stories could be interesting to someone. This might be the reason why she decided to take a pen-name A.M. Barnard, an interesting fact about Louisa Alcott. In her earlier books, she raised the topics of spies, revenge and drug addiction. The books “Pauline’s Passion and Punishment” and “Perilous Play” were written solely for the purpose of earning extra money. The strong characters and emotionality of the stories resulted in them being popular among different types of readers.
After the novel “Little Women” was published and became popular, Alcott preferred not to talk about her earlier works in the literary world.
5. Louisa May Alcott thought of killing herself
1857 was a particularly hard time in Louisa’s life. She was suffering from depression that might be the result of her being unable to find work. In a desperate need to relax and forget about all the troubles for some time, she started reading the biography of Charlotte Brontë written by Elizabeth Gaskell. To her own surprise, she found out that her life was, to a certain extent, similar to the life of the well-known English novelist. The depression became worse, and she even started thinking of committing suicide. Luckily, the thoughts never became a reality.
6. She served as a nurse during the Civil War
When the American Civil War broke out, Louisa felt that it was her duty to serve as a nurse. An interesting fact about Louisa May Alcott is that she quickly found and took up the position of a nurse at the Union Hospital in Georgetown. Unfortunately, six weeks later, she fell ill with pneumonia and typhoid. Therefore, Louisa had to forget about her plans to work at the hospital for at least 3 months. Even though none of the doctors treating her thought that she would survive, she managed to fully recover.
While working, she regularly wrote letters to her family that were collected and published as “Hospital Sketches” later. The sketches in which Louisa described the hardships of a nurse along with the indifference of doctors and their incompetence brought her critical recognition and early fame.
7. Alcott didn’t want to write “Little Women”
Believe it or not, but Louisa was never interested in writing a novel for girls, an interesting fact about Louisa Alcott. Thomas Niles suggested her the idea several times, but she refused. In the end, Niels had to ask Louisa’s father for help. He agreed to publish Bronson’s story while Bronson in return promised to persuade his daughter to write the novel.
The novel “Little Women”, published for the first time in 1868, became a bestseller almost instantly. The story is taken from real life since it describes Louisa’s childhood, her relationships with sisters and her growing-up. The novel laid the foundation for the so-called “March Family Saga” because later Alcott continued the story with the novels “Good Wives”, “Little Men” and “Jo’s Boys”.
8. Louisa Alcott suffered from the symptoms of mercury poisoning
When Louisa became ill during the Civil War, she was given the cure that contained mercury. The poisonous substance caused health problems that she suffered from until the end of her life. Apart from a weak immune system, she often felt dizziness and had hallucinations.
Louisa Alcott died of a stroke at the age of 55. Apart from the legacy in the world of literature, she managed to change the view of gender roles in society. She encouraged and inspired the young girls reading her stories and novels to run after their dreams.
I hope that this article on Louisa Alcott facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!