Louisa May Alcott was born on 29 November 1832 in Pennsylvania. Her father was friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau. Alcott started selling stories in order to help provide financial support for her family. Her first book was Flower Fables (1854). She worked as a nurse during the American Civil War and in 1863 she published Hospital Sketches, which was based on her experiences. Little Women was published in 1868 and was based on her life growing up with her three sisters. She followed it with three sequels, Good Wives (1869), Little Men (1871) and Jo's Boys (1886) and she also wrote other books for both children and adults. Louisa May Alcott was an abolitionist and a campaigner for women's rights. She died on 6 March 1888. Elizabeth Gaskell was born on 29 September 1810 in London. She was brought up in Knutsford, Cheshire by her aunt after her mother died when she was two years old. In 1832 she married William Gaskell, who was a Unitarian minister like her father. After their marriage they lived in Manchester with their children. Elizabeth Gaskell published her first novel, Mary Barton, in 1848 to great success. She went on to publish much of her work in Charles Dickens's magazines, Household Words and All the Year Round. Along with short stories and a biography of Charlotte Brontë, she published five more novels including North and South (1855) and Wives and Daughters (1866). Wives and Daughters is unfinished as Elizabeth Gaskell died suddenly of heart failure on 12 November 1865.
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