Louisa May Alcott: Hospital Sketches

(5334 words)
  • Helena Maragou

Hospital Sketches (1863) was the author’s first claim to fame, although nowadays it is the least familiar of Alcott’s works. It originated in her own experience as a Civil War volunteer nurse at the Union Hotel Hospital of Washington, D.C. Her tour of duty began in December of 1862, after a strong recommendation by Hannah Stevenson, a well-known Boston reformer. Alcott was then thirty years old. The motivation behind her courageous, even for a single woman of the time unorthodox, decision is spelled out in her 1862 journal: “War news is bad. Anxious faces, beating hearts, and busy minds. I like the stir in the air, and long for battle like a warhorse when he smells powder”(108). In November of the same year s…

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Maragou, Helena. "Hospital Sketches". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 January 2005
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=4691, accessed 03 August 2015.]