Posted by: Ron DuBour | July 29, 2016

Knowing your American Heroes ~ Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) ~ by rldubour


Friday!!! time for an American Hero! Today is:

 

Knowing your American Heroes

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

Daughter of Amos Bronson

And Abigail May Alcott.

Transcendentalist ideals

To her family all were taught.

Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania

A sibling of three sisters.

Two younger Elizabeth and May

And Anna would be the elder.

Family moved to Boston, Mass

In thirty-four or thirty-five.

She shared her family’s poverty

With love and faith she did survive.

As she grew older became known

As an abolitionist.

Along with her thoughts against slavery

People saw her as a feminist.

In eighteen hundred and sixty

Began writing for the Atlantic Monthly.

While a nurse in the Union Hospital

At Georgetown D.C.

Most famous for her children books

She did compose “pot boilers.”

An advocate of women’s suffrage

Known as the “Victorian Age” for composers.

In eighteen-seventy-nine

Her sister May passed away.

Took her daughter Louisa-May

Home with her to stay.

During the American Civil War

She contracted mercury poisoning.

Saw her father on his death bed

She died two days after visiting.

Was an American novelist

Best known for the novel “Little Women.”

A heroin in literature

Not just adults but also children.

She published thirty books

And collections of short stories

Leaving a wonderful legacy

Her name shall live in history.

AUTHOR NOTES: Tran·scen·den·tal·ism; 1803 1: a philosophy that emphasizes the a priori conditions of knowledge and experience or the unknowable character of ultimate reality or that emphasizes the transcendent as the fundamental reality2: a philosophy that asserts the primacy of the spiritual and transcendental over the material and empirical3: the quality or state of being transcendental; especially: visionary idealism

Alcott was a daughter of noted Transcendentalist Amos Bronson Alcott and Abigail May Alcott. Louisa’s father started the Temple School; her uncle, Samuel Joseph May, was a noted abolitionist. Though of New England parentage and residence, she was born in Germantown, which is currently part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She had three sisters: one elder (Anna Pratt Alcott) and two younger (Elizabeth Sewall Alcott and May Alcott). The family moved to Boston in 1834 or 1835, where her father established an experimental school and joined the Transcendental Club with Emerson and Thoreau. During her childhood and early adulthood, she shared her family’s poverty and Transcendentalist ideals. In 1840, after several setbacks with the school, her family moved to a cottage on two acres along the Sudbury River in Concord, Massachusetts. The Alcott family moved to the Utopian Fruitlands community for a brief interval in 1843-1844, and then after its collapse to rented rooms, and subsequently a house in Concord purchased with her mother’s inheritance and help from Emerson. Alcott’s early education had included lessons from the naturalist Henry David Thoreau but had chiefly been in the hands of her father. She also received some instruction from writers and educators such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller, who were all family friends. She later described these early years in a newspaper sketch entitled “Transcendental Wild Oats”, afterwards reprinted in the volume Silver Pitchers (1876), which relates the experiences of her family during their experiment in “plain living and high thinking” at Fruitlands. As she grew older, she developed as both an abolitionist and a feminist. In 1847, the family housed a fugitive slave for one week; in 1848 Alcott read and admired the “Declaration of Sentiments” published by the Seneca Falls Convention on women’s rights. Due to the family’s poverty, she began work at an early age as an occasional teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic helper, and writer — her first book was Flower Fables (1854), tales originally written for Ellen Emerson, daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1860, Alcott began writing for the Atlantic Monthly, and she was nurse in the Union Hospital at Georgetown, D.C., for six weeks in 1862-1863. Her letters home, revised and published in the Commonwealth and collected as Hospital Sketches (1863, republished with additions in 1869), garnered her first critical recognition for her observations and humor. Her novel Moods (1864), was also promising. A lesser-known part of her work are the passionate, fiery novels and stories she wrote, usually under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard. These works, such as A Long Fatal Love Chase and Pauline’s Passion and Punishment, were known in the Victorian Era as “potboilers” or “blood-and-thunder tales.” Her character Jo in “Little Women” publishes several such stories but ultimately rejects them after being told that they are “dangerous for little minds.” Their protagonists are willful and relentless in their pursuit of their own aims, which often include revenge on those who have humiliated or thwarted them. These works achieved immediate commercial success and remain highly readable today. In 1879 her younger sister, May, died. Alcott took in May’s daughter, Louisa May Nieriker (“Lulu”), who was two years old. The baby was named after her aunt, and was given the same nickname. In her later life, Alcott became an advocate of women’s suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts. Despite worsening health, Alcott wrote through the rest of her life, finally succumbing to the after-effects of mercury poisoning contracted during her American Civil War service: she had received calomel treatments for the effects of typhoid. She died in Boston on March 6, 1888 at age 55, two days after visiting her father on his deathbed. Her last words were “Is it not meningitis?” The story of her life and career was initially told in Ednah D. Cheney’s Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals (Boston, 1889) and then in Madeleine B. Stern’s seminal biography Louisa May Alcott (University of Oklahoma Press, 1950). Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) was an American novelist. She is best known for the novel Little Women, published in 1868. This novel is loosely based on her childhood experiences with her three sisters.In the years before her death on March 6th, 1888, Alcott published over 30 books and collections of short stories, leaving a legacy of wonderful stories to be enjoyed by generations of young readers.


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