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Louisa May Alcott was born into a prominent New England Transcendentalist family with friends such as Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. After 1838, the family lived in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts, and for a year at the failed Utopian Fruitlands community. Louisa May was educated primarily by her father, Bronson Alcott. As a teenager, she went to work as a teacher and domestic to help support her family. During this time, she published poems, short stories, thrillers, and children's tales, usually under the pen name Flora Fairfield. In 1862, she adopted the additional pen name A.M. Barnard, under which some of her melodramas were produced in Boston. However, her first big break as a writer was her account of her experiences as a nurse in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War, Hospital Sketches (1863). She began to publish stories under her real name in Atlantic Monthly and Lady's Companion, and became editor of Merry's Museum, a girls' magazine. The great success of her novel for young people. Little Women (1869–70), gave Alcott financial independence. She turned out a prolific stream of novels and short stories, often drawn directly from her own life. Her other well-known books include Little Men (1871), Eight Cousins (1875) and Jo's Boys (1886). Alcott also wrote novels for adults, but they were not as popular. She never married and died at age 55.
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