Louisa May Alcott, 1832 - 1888

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Born: 29 November 1832, Germantown, Philadelphia
Died: 6 March 1888, Boston, Massachusetts

Alcott's father Bronson Alcott was a teacher and a member of the Transcendental Club, her mother Abba was an active proponent of women's rights and abolition. She grew up as a rebellious tomboy in the tension between her parents. She was largely educated by her father but was given lessons by family friends including the naturalist Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Due to the family's poverty she started writing, her first book was published in 1855. She served as a nurse in a Civil War hospital at Georgetown, D.C. where she came down with typhoid fever and was treated with calomel, a mercury compound which affected her health for some time afterwards. She had significant success with a pair of racy "potboilers" written under the name A. M. Barnard after the end of the war. A third Barnard title was not published until 1995, Little Women was a huge hit and "Barnard" retired. While caring for her ailing father, Alcott fell into a coma and died two days after he did. Her last words were, "Is it not meningitis?"

Biography from Wikipedia and Domestic Goddesses

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