• Ryanne Harper

Louisa May Alcott. Boss Lady.


Louisa May Alcott, born on this day in 1832, is best known for her novel Little Women. She gave us the March sisters which should be enough. I love the March sisters. But, that isn't all she did. In honor of her birthday, here are ten awesome facts, brought to you by Mental Floss, about Louisa May Alcott.

1. She had super famous family friends

LMA grew up in a politically active household in Massachusetts. She helped her parents hide slaves who had escaped via the Underground Railroad, discussed women's rights with Margaret fuller, hung out with literary giants Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. She spent time with famous abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, and women's suffrage activist Julia Ward Howe.

2. She published under the name Flora Farfield.

3. She wrote pulp fiction.

Alcott wrote pulp fiction under the name A.M. Barnard. Continuing her penchant for alliteration, she wrote books and plays called Perilous Play and Pauline’s Passion and Punishment to make easy money. Alcott wrote about cross-dressers, spies, revenge, and hashish. These works are way different than the more wholesome vibe she captured in Little Women. Once Little Women began gaining popularity, LMA stopped promoting her pulp works.

4. She was a Civil War nurse.

When the war first broke out, Alcott sewed uniforms for the Union side. Obviously. She later enlisted as an army nurse.

5. She was poisoned.

By mercury. Louisa came down with typhoid fever and pneumonia. She received the common treatment of the time. A healthy dose of mercury. Turns out, there isn't a healthy dose of mercury. She spent the rest of her life taking opium to combat the symptoms of mercury poisoning and, what would likely be diagnosed today as, lupus.

6. LMA didn't want to write Little Women.

She was approached by a publisher who asked her to write a novel for girls. She wasn't at all interested. Her father was trying to publish a philosophy book. The publisher was uninterested. So, to help out her father, Louisa agreed to write a novel so the publisher would take on her father's work. The end result was Little Women and, eventually, Jo's Boys.

7. She was a suffragette.

Louisa spent some of her time writing pieces for women's rights periodicals. When Concord passed a law allowing women to vote in 1879, Louisa became the first woman registered. She cast a ballot in the 1880 election. Women's right to vote on a national level would not be granted until 1920. I assume because of our delicate sensibilities.

8. She pretended to be her own servant to avoid fans.

I've gone to great lengths to avoid people. I'm totally stealing this move. Not that I have fans, but whatever.

9. She never married.

She was too busy registering women to vote, hanging out with awesome people, and doing opium. She didn't have time for a husband.

10. You can visit her family home.

And maybe even see a fake servant or two. I don't know if that's true or not.


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