Her most beloved book is Little Women, but today's birthday girl (born in 1832) also wrote Little Men, Jo's Boys, An Old Fashioned Girl, and other books.
Alcott's father moved the family to Boston, established an experimental school, and joined the Transcendental Club with famous writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The family also spent some time living in the Utopian Fruitlands community. Alcott had an amazing education—sort of what we might call “homeschooling” these days—with most of her lessons with her father, but others with famous writers and naturalists such as Emerson, Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller. All of these famous people were family friends.
As an adult, Alcott became an abolitionist—someone who wants to abolish slavery—and a feminist. (Later in life, Alcott worked for women's suffrage, and she was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts.) She worked as a teacher, seamstress, governess, maid, and writer. She wrote her first book, Flower Fables, at age 17, and in her twenties she wrote for a magazine. When the Civil War broke out, Alcott worked as a nurse in the Union Hospital in Georgetown, D.C.
In 1868, Louisa May Alcott began to achieve literary success with the publication of the first part of Little Women. This story of sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy was semi-autobiographical, which means that parts were based on her own life with her own three sisters. Louisa was most like the writer-sister, Jo, but unlike Jo, who gets married and has children, Alcott remained single all her life.
Explore Alcott's World
Here are some games and activities from the days of Louisa May Alcott.
“Fairy Song,” one of Alcott's poems, is read aloud here.
Rent and watch one of the movie versions of Little Women.