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Louisa M. Alcott: Author Of "Little Women"
by [?]

In a pleasant, shady garden in Concord, Massachusetts, under a gnarled old apple-tree, sat a very studious looking little person, bending over a sheet of paper on which she was writing. She had made a seat out of a tree stump, and a table by laying a board across two carpenter’s horses, whose owner was working in the house, and no scholar writing a treatise on some deep subject could have been more absorbed in his work than was the little girl in the garden.

For a whole long hour she wrote, frequently stopping to look off into the distance and bite the end of her pencil with a very learned look, then she would bend over her paper again and write hard and fast. Finally, she laid down her pencil with an air of triumph, jumped up from the stump and rushed toward the house.

“Mother! Anna! I’ve written a poem about the robin we found this morning in the garden!” Dashing into the library she waved the paper in the air with a still more excited cry: “Listen!” and dropped on the floor to read her poem to a much thrilled audience of two. With great dramatic effect she read her lines, glancing up from time to time to see that she was producing the proper effect. This is what she read:


Welcome, welcome, little stranger,
Fear no harm and fear no danger,
We are glad to see you here,
For you sing “Sweet Spring is near.”

Now the white snow melts away,
Now the flowers blossom gay,
Come, dear bird, and build your nest,
For we love our robin best.

She finished with an upward tilt of her voice, while her mother excitedly flourished the stocking she was darning over her head, crying: “Good! Splendid!” and quiet Anna echoed the words, looking with awe at her small sister, as she added, “It’s just like Shakespeare!”

The proud mother did not say much more in praise of the budding poetess’s effort, for fear of making her conceited; but that night, after the verses had been read to a delighted father, and the young author had gone happily off to bed, the mother said:

“I do believe she is going to be a genius, Bronson!”

Yet, despite the prediction, even an appreciative parent would have been more than surprised had she been able to look into the future and had seen her daughter as one of the most famous writers of books for young people of her generation. The little girl who sat under the apple-tree on that day in early spring and wrote the verses was no other than Louisa May Alcott, and her tribute to the robin was to be treasured in after years as the first evidence of its writer’s talent.

Louisa, the second daughter of Amos Bronson and Abba May Alcott, was born in Germantown, Pa., on the 29th of November, 1832, and was fortunate in being the child of parents who not only understood the intense, restless and emotional nature of this daughter, but were deeply interested in developing it in such a way that her marked traits would be valuable to her in later life. To this unfailing sympathy of both father and mother the turbulent nature owed much of its rich achievement, and Louisa Alcott’s home surroundings and influences had as much to do with her success as a writer as had her talent, great as that was.

At the time of her birth her father was teaching school in Germantown, but he was a man whose ideas were original and far in advance of his time, and his way of teaching was not liked by the parents of his pupils, so when Louisa was two years old and her older sister, Anna, four, the family went to Boston, where Mr. Alcott opened his famous school in Masonic Temple, and enjoyed teaching by his own new methods, and when he was happy his devoted wife was equally contented.