Her father was Amos Bronson Alcott, an American educator of considerable note. The father commenced as a local trader, and carried his trunk about among the planters of Virginia. Having acquired an education from books loaned to him, he commenced teaching school. In 1828 he removed to Boston, and established a school for young children of five years of age. The school would succeed to-day, but then it was in advance of the age, and it failed. Finally his ability attracted attention abroad, and James P. Greaves, of London, a fellow-laborer of Pestalozzi, the immortal educator of Switzerland, invited him to come to England. Before Alcott's arrival, however, Mr. Greaves died, but he was received very cordially by the friends of the new departure in education. In honor of the American educator, their school at Ham, near London, was named the "Alcott House." Returning to America he was active in conversational and literary pursuits. He published two books, "Tablets," 1868, and "Concord Days," 1872.
Thus we see that Miss Alcott comes from a thoughtful, industrious parent. She is also a cousin of the eminent educator and author, Dr. Wm. A. Alcott, who died in Massachusetts, in 1859. Dr. Alcott visited about 20,000 schools to assist in revising and improving the school work. He published upwards of one hundred books and pamphlets on literary and educational topics. His name is identified permanently with some of the most valuable reforms in education, morals, and physical training, which the present century has witnessed. The labor performed by him without asking for compensation is almost unparalleled.
From such parentage, and guided by such relatives, it is not surprising that Miss Louisa May Alcott performed her life-work most satisfactorily. She commenced writing fairy tales in her teens. In 1855, her first volume, "Flower Fables," appeared. Her next literary work consisted of stories written for the Boston journals. "Hospital Sketches," published in 1863, won for her a general reputation. These sketches were written in the South, while she was acting in the capacity of volunteer nurse in the army. From 1863 to 1864 she wrote for the "Atlantic Monthly;" and in 1865 appeared "Moods," her first novel. "Little Women," perhaps her most popular work, was published in 1867. She published "An Old Fashioned Girl" in 1869, and "Little Men" in 1871. She has also published "Work," "Morning Glories," etc.
Miss Alcott's death occurred March 6, 1888, the day upon which her father was buried, and it is noticed as a curious coincidence that she was born upon his 24th birthday. There had always been a marked sympathy between them, and his death was so severe a blow that she sunk into a state of nervous prostration from which she could not rally.