Louisa May Alcott’s Obituary, March 1888

Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott’s Obituary, originally published in the New York Tribune, March 7, 1888:  BOSTON, Mass., March 6 – Miss Louisa M. Alcott Following her Father to the Grave — Cold Quickly Develops into Spinal Meningitis

 Miss Louisa May Alcott died this morning. Coming so soon after the death of her father the suddenly announced decease of Miss Alcott brings a double sorrow to the many friends of the family.” 

For a long time Miss Alcott has been ill, suffering from nervous prostration. Last autumn, placing herself under the charge of Dr. Green of Columbus Avenue, she appeared to be improving and afterward went to Dunreath Place at the Highlands to live temporarily with Dr. Lawrence. 

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Louisa May Alcott's grave

The Alcotts are buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, MA

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Spinal meningitis and the shock of apoplexy

She drove to town to visit her father on Thursday, and caught a cold which, on Saturday, settled on the base of the brain, and developed spinal meningitis. She died at the Highlands this morning, becoming insensible at 3 o’clock and an hour later suffering a shock of apoplexy.

It is understood that the body of Miss Alcott is buried in Concord and that the funeral was strictly private.

Louisa May Alcott, daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott, was born November 29, 1832, while her parents were living in Germantown, Penn. Before she was two years of age they moved to Boston, where she received the rudiments of her education from her father.

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Fruitlands - Bronson Alcott

Fruitlands — the failed “utopia” attempted by Bronson Alcott
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Fruitands and Transcendental Wild Oats

A few years later, when the family had established a residence in Concord, Henry David Thoreau was among her teachers. Their life in this latter town was interrupted by a year spent in an ideal community, “Fruitlands,” in the town of Harvard, where the abstained form meat as food.

This experience Miss Alcott subsequently descried in an amusing sketch, “Transcendental Wild Oats.”  Upon returning to Concord, the Alcotts lived for a time in a house which was afterwards Hawthorne’s home.

Before completing her sixteenth year (1848), Miss Alcott went with her family to Boston, and there began teaching school, in which she was successful, although the pursuit was not altogether to her taste, and before many years she began writing for publication. Her first printed volume, “Flower Fables,” came out in 1855.

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Orchard House - Louisa May Alcott

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Concord and Orchard House

Two years later the Alcotts removed again to Concord, living in Orchard House, which remained their home for many years. In 1862 Miss Alcott, with other noble women, volunteered to nurse wounded Union soldiers, and was assigned to duty in Georgetown, D.C.

Less than a year had been spent in this heroic service before she underwent a severe attack of typhoid fever, from which she never fully recovered. She then returned home.

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Madeleine B. Stern’s Brilliant analysis of Little Women
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Her Hospital Sketches (1863), based on what she witnessed during this part of her career, attracted much attention to the authoress and was the real foundation of her literary reputation. Moods, her first novel, came out the next year. Little Women, which was published in 1868, attained amazing popularity. The second volume appeared in 1870.

Then came An Old-Fashioned Girl (1869), Little Men (1871) and Aunt Jo’s Scrap-Bag (six volumes, 1872-82). She also wrote “Proverb Stories” (1882) and some other books, and there have been suspicions that she was the author of one of the “No Name” series of novels.

Miss Alcott also wrote two or three plays, and at one time meditated going on the stage. Much of the time for several years past she has made Boston her home.

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Louisa May Alcott Books

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A Visit to Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House
A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
10 Life Lessons from Louisa May Alcott
Sweet Success At Last for Louisa May Alcott

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