Monday, March 21, 2011

Louisa May or May Not but She Certainly Did

At the Civi War battle of Fredericksburg in November of 1863 12,000 Union soldiers fell in battle.  Louisa May Alcott, yes, the author of Little Women, made her contribution to the war effort by nursing the soldiers wounded in that battle.  She drove herself making the men comfortable, administering medicine, changing dressings.  Until Alcott herself fell ill with typhoid fever.  As was the custom of the time they treated her illness by having her swallow mercury.  She never regained her vigorous good health. All this before she wrote the masterpiece!  I had never heard of her brief occupation as a nurse but discovered it while reading a wonderful new book Louisa May Alcott : a personal biography by Susan Cheever.  Cheever's not kidding about the personal part.  That Louisa May Alcott was some kind of amazing. By the end of the book you just wanted the woman as a friend. 

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