Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888) was one of the best authors of her day, but even though she’s remembered primarily for being a late 19th century novelist, she was also a progressive Transcendentalist. Though Alcott is not as well known as writers like Thoreau and Emerson, and she lacked the advocacy work of women like Susan B. Anthony, she used her pen to help push for change on the foremost social issues of the day, including gender equality and abolition. Alcott managed to make semi-autobiographical works popular among audiences of all ages. Her most critically acclaimed work is Little Women, a multi-volume look at life inside her own house in Concord, Massachusetts, with the protagonists modeled after Alcott and her sisters. The series was both breezy but serious, offering a glimpse at the various aspects of life for 19th century women coming of age. One contemporary reviewer called Little Women "the very best of books to reach the hearts of the young of any age from six to sixty.” Alcott also used her experiences serving as a nurse for six weeks during the Civil War at a Union Hospital in Georgetown, after which she compiled her letters to create Hospital Sketches. In that work, Alcott managed to use her unique style of humor to address the serious problems she encountered working as a nurse during the war.
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