The November 29 Google Doodle celebrates the 184th birthday of Louisa May Alcott, the author of ‘Little Women’. The 1868 novel is undoubtedly one of the most important works of literature of all time. Learn more about the prolific author after the jump!
1. Little Women is based on her own life
Louisa’s magnum opus is Little Women, the story of the March sisters: Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy. The girls live with their mother while their father serves as a chaplain in the Civil War. The family is newly living in poverty, so the young teen girls are all working outside the home. The story follows the various pursuits of each of the sisters — their love lives, their relationships with each others, and their fears during the war. Jo has ambitions of being a writer and using her talents to make more money for her family…sound familiar?
2. She wrote tons of other books after Little Women
While Louisa is best known for her masterpiece, Little Women, she’s the author of many other novels in the 19th century: The Inheritance, Moods, The Mysterious Key and What It Opened, An Old Fashioned Girl, Will’s Wonder Book, Work: A Story of Experience, Beginning Again, Being a Continuation of Work, Eight Cousins or The Aunt-Hill, Rose in Bloom: A Sequel to Eight Cousins, Under the Lilacs, and Jack and Jill: A Village Story.
3. She first published her work under a pseudonym
Before being known as the remarkable Louisa May Alcott, the author went by A. M. Barnard. That’s not unusual for female authors to do, especially at the time, so they could have a better chance of getting published. As A.M., she wrote young adult novels: Behind a Mask, or a Woman’s Power, The Abbot’s Ghost, or Maurice’s Treherne’s Temptation, and A Long Fatal Love Chase. She also published A Modern Mephistopheles anonymously.
4. She served in the Civil War
At the beginning of the Civil War, Louisa volunteered to sew clothes and provide supplies to soldiers. But as the war trudged on, Louisa joined the war and became a nurse in Washington, DC. She wrote many letters home about her experiences, which she later compiled and fictionalized as Hospital Sketches, published in 1863.
5. She died of mercury poisoning
Louisa contracted a near-fatal case of typhoid fever during the Civil War, and was treated with mercury to tamp the disease. But it caused a lifetime of health problems, including chronic pain and fatigue. She died of a stroke in 1888, two days after her father’s death. It’s believed that the cause of death was mercury poisoning. She’s buried at the Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow cemetery, near other famed authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
HollywoodLifers, have you read Little Women? Tell us in the comments!