Chapter

Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888)

Edited by Louis P. Masur

in “… The Real War Will Never Get in the Books”

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098372
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853908 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195098372.003.0002
Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888)

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Louisa May Alcott craved action. The Civil War gave her a chance, and she took it. In the Fall of 1862 she applied to serve as a nurse in Washington. On December 11th of that yaer, she received orders to report to the Union Hotel Hospital, a converted tavern. There she set to work. From Washington, Alcott had signed as Nurse Tribulation Periwinkle, one of many personas that she employed throughout her writing career. She revised some of these letters and published them in four installments in The Commonwealth, an anti-slavery weekly. The response was favorable, and when James Redpath offered to reprint these letters as a book, Alcott accepted. It has been said that all the themes of a writer's lifetime can be found in her first book. Hospital Sketches contains light and darkness, comedy and tragedy, salvation and sin. Such scenes, extended into books, would make Alcott the best-selling author of Little Women, Little Men, and Jo's Boys.

Keywords: Louisa May Alcott; Civil War; Nurse Tribulation Periwinkle; The Commonwealth; James Redpath; Hospital Sketches; anti-slavery

Chapter.  9789 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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