Though the Alcott girls, including Louisa, never received any sort of formal education, they were taught by their father. The family’s friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau provided many opportunities as well. For example, Emerson allowed Louisa full access to his library.
Louisa grew up at the Wayside Inn during a period called the “American Renaissance”. The era was defined with major literary figures and philosophers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Also in this era were women such as Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott. Louisa also admired women writers such as Rebecca Harding Davis, the author of Life in the Iron Mills. Louisa described her delight in meeting with Davis in one of her many diary entries.
Growing up, Louisa’s family moved frequently. In 1834, the family moved to Boston, where Bronson established the Temple School. The Temple School was a transcendentalist institution that failed in 1838 when it was attacked as ‘religiously unorthodox’. Afterwards, the family moved to Concord, Massachusetts. During the years of 1849 to 1852, the Alcotts lived at various addresses in Boston. Eventually, when the rest of her family returned to Concord, Louisa decided to remain in Boston.
The frequent changes in her environment did not inhibit Louisa’s writing. Even as a child, Louisa had a talent for writing. She has a vivid imagination, and was constantly encouraged by her father. She wrote often, and sisters...