Author Louisa May Alcott may have written her most famous novel, Little Women, in Massachusetts, however, she was a native of the Keystone state. Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, on November 29, 1832. Her father, A. (Amos) Bronson Alcott, ran a school on Eighth Street near Locust Street, and later a school in Germantown. Alcott was very young when her family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where her father again taught school and was friendly with Ralph Waldo Emerson. In the early 1800s, the Alcotts were part of a short-lived experimental communal village known as Fruitlands.
Louisa May Alcott was an abolitionist and active in the women’s suffrage movement. Her first book, Flower Fables, was published in 1854. She interrupted her literary career in to move to Washington, D.C., and serve as a nurse during the Civil War. During her service, Alcott contracted typhoid fever. She was treated with a drug containing mercury and suffered from the effects of mercury poisoning for the rest of her life. In 1868, Little Women, a novel based largely on Alcott’s own life in Massachusetts with three sisters, was published with great success. Her books are still popular today. She died on March 6, 1888, just two days after her father.
HSP holds miscellaneous manuscripts of both Louisa May Alcott and A. Bronson Alcott. We also have Hospital Sketches and some other works by Louisa May Alcott. The Campbell Collection (vol.79, p.67) includes a 1908 newspaper clipping about the school on Eighth Street founded by A. Bronson Alcott.
Image: Louisa May Alcott, print of a photograph (undated)