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Louisa May Alcott

The Woman Behind Little Women

Harriet Reisen

Picador

In a fresh, modern take on the remarkable Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Reisen’s vivid biography explores the author’s life in the context of her works, many of which are to some extent autobiographical. Although Alcott secretly wrote pulp fiction, harbored radical abolitionist views, and served as a Civil War nurse, her novels went on to sell more copies than those of Herman Melville and Henry James. Stories and details culled from Alcott’s journals, together with revealing letters to family, friends, and publishers, plus recollections of her famous contemporaries provide the basis for this lively account of the author’s classic rags-to-riches tale. In Louisa May Alcott, the extraordinary woman behind the beloved American classic Little Women is revealed as never before.

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FROM CHAPTER ELEVEN: I’ve Often Longed to See a War

By 1862, as she approached her thirtieth birthday Louisa was restless, and hungry for adventure before it was too late. “Decided to go to Washington as a nurse if I could find a place,” she wrote in her journal for November. “I love nursing and must let out my pent-up energy in some new way.”

Thirty was the minimum age for being an army nurse. Dorothea Dix, the superintendent of the Union army nursing corps, had also stipulated that volunteers be “plain looking” and married. But under the

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  • Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind 'Little Women' preview

    Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind 'Little Women' preview

  • 5 Things You Didn't Know about Louisa May Alcott

    5 Things You Didn't Know about Louisa May Alcott

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REVIEWS

Praise for Louisa May Alcott

“At last, Louisa May Alcott has the biography that admirers of Little Women might have hoped for.” —The Wall Street Journal's Best 10 Books of the Year

“A magnificent new biography . . . a classic.” —The Washington Times

“Fans will adore Harriet Reisen's sympathetic biography. . . .With charming verve, she details Alcott's remarkable if difficult life.” —USA Today
 
“Superb . . . punctuates the myths of the Alcott family, rendering Louisa May with nuance.” —Chicago Tribune
 
“A biography as vibrant as its subject.” —Vogue

“Reisen’s lifelong fascination with Little Women and the woman who wrote it has produced an absorbing narrative, in many ways the best ever, of Alcott’s own life. . . . The utterly compelling force of Alcott’s personality has never been better described. I found the book compulsively readable; I couldn’t put it down.” —Robert Richardson, author of Emerson: The Mind on Fire and Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind

“Brilliantly researched. . . . Her biography will occupy an essential place on any Alcott bookshelf.” —John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father

“A beautifully written, significant, and fascinating work. Harriet Reisen does with this biography what Alcott did with her writing—gives us a memorable and inspiring gift full of humanity, heart, and soul.” —Winona Ryder, producer and star of Little Women (1994)

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Harriet Reisen

  • Harriet Reisen has written dramatic and historical scripts for PBS and HBO, including a recent PBS documentary on Louisa May Alcott. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and son.

  • Harriet Reisen ©Liane Brandon
    Harriet Reisen
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Louisa May Alcott

The Woman Behind Little Women

Harriet Reisen

BOOKS FOR COURSES AVAILABLE

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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