Louisa May's Battle How the Civil War led to Little Women

Kathleen Krull

Book - 2013

"Louisa May Alcott is best known for penning Little Women, but few are aware of the experience that influenced her writing most-her time as a nurse during the Civil War. Caring for soldiers' wounds and writing letters home for them inspired a new realism in her work. When her own letters home were published as Hospital Sketches, she had her first success as a writer. The acclaim for her new writing style inspired her to use this approach in Little Women, which was one of the first novels to be set during the Civil War. It was the book that made her dreams come true, and a story she could never have written without the time she spent healing others in service of her country." - Amazon.

Saved in:

Children's Room Show me where

jBIOGRAPHY/Alcott, Louisa May
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jBIOGRAPHY/Alcott, Louisa May Checked In
New York : Walker Books for Young Readers 2013.
Main Author
Kathleen Krull (-)
Physical Description
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill., col. map ; 29 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

At 30 years old, Louisa May Alcott traveled to Washington, D.C., to nurse wounded soldiers at a Union hospital. Though inexperienced and unprepared for conditions there, she made herself useful by feeding, bathing, and comforting the men. After only weeks on the job, Alcott contracted a near-fatal case of typhoid. She recovered and began writing in hopes of paying her family's bills. Hospital Sketches, a successful book based on her letters home from Washington, was followed by Little Women, which brought financial security and literary immortality. Krull offers a lively account of Alcott's experiences as she traveled to Washington, served at the hospital, and found her style as a writer. While the large-scale, richly colored illustrations, created with Corel Painter digital oils, are uneven in their effectiveness, this picture book offers a new slant on the Civil War and on Alcott's life. Back matter includes articles on women in medicine during the period and on the Battle of Fredericksburg, along with a source bibliography and lists of books and websites.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-This picture-book biography concentrates on Alcott's service as a Civil War nurse. The journey from her home in Massachusetts to a hospital in Washington, DC, was difficult and eye-opening. Arriving to harsh conditions and a constant stream of wounded soldiers, Alcott dealt with her situation by writing about it. Explaining how the experience shaped her sensibilities and led to the publication of her first successful book, Hospital Sketches, Krull makes the case that Little Women may not have happened without her subject's Civil War involvement. Digital oils on gessoed canvas were used to create the images. Alcott appears slightly idealized, attractive but not beautiful. The wartime palette is somber and dark, but the protagonist is often wearing something with a red or white accent to make her stand out. Her figure consistently commands the eye. In the last few pictures, when the war has ended and Alcott has achieved success, the colors are much brighter and convey a more cheerful mood. To help readers understand the larger context of the time, notes about women in 19th-century medicine and the Battle of Fredericksburg are included. This portrait is brief but compelling, and it may inspire readers to seek out more information about a groundbreaking author.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Alcott's experience as a Civil War nurse is recounted in this candid picture-book biography with realistic, somewhat static digital oil paintings that reflect the hardship and horror of a run-down makeshift hospital. Her own near-death illness provides impetus, following Alcott's long recovery, for her successful writing career, first with the publication of letters before her greatest achievement, Little Women. Reading list, websites. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

During the Civil War, Louisa May Alcott served as a volunteer nurse, caring for Union soldiers in Washington, D.C., between December 12, 1862, and January 21, 1863. This well-researched biographical vignette explores the brief but pivotal episode in Alcott's life. An abolitionist, Alcott longed to fight in the Union Army, but she did her part by serving as a nurse. Alcott met the female nursing requirements: She was 30, plain, strong and unmarried. Krull describes her challenging solo journey from Massachusetts by train and ship and her lonely arrival in Washington at the "overcrowded, damp, dark, airless" hospital. For three weeks she nursed and provided "motherly" support for her "boys" before succumbing to typhoid fever, forcing her to return to Massachusetts. Krull shows how Alcott's short tenure as a nurse affected her life, inspiring her to publish letters she sent home as Hospital Sketches. This honest account of the war earned rave reviews and taught Alcott to use her own experiences in her writing, leading to Little Women. Peppered with Alcott's own words, the straightforward text is enhanced by bold, realistic illustrations rendered in digital oils on gessoed canvas. A somber palette reinforces the grim wartime atmosphere, dramatically highlighting Alcott in her red cape and white nurse's apron. An insightful glimpse into a key period in Alcott's life and women in nursing. (notes on women in medicine and the Battle of Fredericksburg, sources, map) (Picture book/biography. 9-11)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.