Louisa May Alcott was born in Pennsylvania, in 1832, the second of four daughters. After a period of serving as an army nurse, she published Hospital Sketches in 1863, followed by Gothic Romances and lurid thrillers. In 1868-9, she published Little Women, which proved so popular that it was followed by two sequels and several other novels. She died in 1888.
Elaine Showalter is the author of the groundbreaking A Literature of Their Own and editor of Little Women for Penguin Classics.