Louisa May Alcott: Hospital Sketches

(5334 words)
  • Helena Maragou
  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 11: Theory, Philosophy, Concepts: History of Ideas and Science.

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 28 November 2015.]