Five poignant tales based in part on the author’s experiences as a nurse during the Civil War: Obtaining Supplies, A Night, My Contraband, Happy Women, and How I Went Out to Service. Before she wrote Little Women one of the most popular books for children ever written Louisa May Alcott (1832 1888) served during the Civil War as a volunteer nurse in Washington, D.C. Drawing on that episode in her life, she produced Hospital Sketches, a fictionalized account of her experiences at the military hospital in Georgetown. This collection of five poignant short stories contains two pieces from Hospital Sketches, published in 1863: Obtaining Supplies, recounting the obstacles Alcott’s fictionalized persona, Tribulation Periwinkle, faced in gaining her independence and getting to Washington; and A Night, a moving account of her encounter with a dying soldier. Also included are My Contraband, a gripping tale of vengeance involving a Civil War nurse, her Confederate patient and his former slave; Happy Women, a fictionalised essay about four spinsters with a positive attitude toward their marital status; and How I Went Out to Service, an autobiographical sketch of a young woman’s undaunted pursuit of financial independence. Rich in their simple eloquence, these stories provide revealing glimpses of the concerns and literary techniques of one of America’s most admired authors.
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