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Louisa May Alcott

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Louisa May Alcott

We remember Louisa May Alcott chiefly as the author of the famous story, Little Women, which is only one of the many novels, short stories and poems she wrote. In Little Women the character of Jo March is largely the story of herself as a child.

Louisa's mother's family were members of King's Chapel (Unitarian) in Boston, and that is where her father and mother, Bronson and Abigail May were married in 1830. One of Louisa's uncles, the Reverend Samuel Joseph May, was a Unitarian minister.

Louisa was born in Germantown, Pa., where her father was a teacher in a Quaker community. When Louisa was two years old, the family moved to Boston where Bronson Alcott opened a school in the Masonic Temple with the assistance of Miss Elizabeth Peabody.

In 1840 Bronson gave up .teaching and moved to Concord, Mass., which then became their home for the growing family. It was here that they were neighbors of Ralph Waldo Emerson and friends with Henry D. Thoreau.

Louisa's first book, Flower Fables, was a collection of tales originally created to amuse Emerson's daughter.

During the Civil War she nursed soldiers in a Union Hospital near Washington, D. C. The journal she kept, "Hospital Sketches", was later published. Later, she lived in Boston and edited a children's magazine, "Merry Museum", and continued her career as a novelist and writer.

Her Religion

When Louisa May Alcott was a young woman trying to find work in Boston, she met the Rev. Theodore Parker, a Unitarian minister. He and his wife were very helpful to her. She attended his Sunday Services and his evening discussion groups. Louisa May Alcott's biographer, Ednah D. Cheney, writes the following about Louisa's religion:

Louisa May Alcott

"In her journal at this time she speaks of her religious feelings, which the experiences of grief and despair and reviving hope had deepened. Louisa Alcott's was a truly religious soul; she always lived in the consciousness of a Higher Power sustaining and blessing her, whose presence was revealed to her through Nature, through the inspired words of great thinkers and the deep experiences of her own heart. She never led her life as an isolated possession which she was free to use for her own enjoyment or glory. Her father truly called her 'Duty's faithful child', and her life was consecrated to the duty she recognized as specially hers. But for outward forms and rites of religion she cared little; her home was sacred to her, and she found her best life there. She loved Theodore Parker, and found great strength and help from his preaching, and afterward liked to listen to Dr. Bartol; but she never joined any church."

Jean Brockley

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