Elizabeth Sewall Alcott
Elizabeth Sewall "Lizzie" Alcott (June 24, 1835 – March 14, 1858)
In her semi-autobiographical novel, Little Women (1868), Louisa May Alcott represented her sister as Elizabeth. She wrote:
Elizabeth - or Beth as everyone called her - was a rosy, smooth-haired, bright-eyed girl, with a shy manner, a timid voice, and a peaceful expression, which was seldom disturbed. Her father called her ‘Little Tranquillity’ and the name suited her perfectly for she seemed to live in a happy world of her own, only venturing out to meet the few whom she trusted.
Her father Bronson was on a tour of the Western United States and had reached as far as Cincinnati when he heard that Lizzie, known to be ill, had taken a turn for the worse. By February 1858, she refused to take medicine and told her father, "I can best be spared of the four." On March 14, 1858, Louisa wrote in her journal:
My dear Beth died at three in the morning after two years of patient pain. Last week she put her work away, saying the needle was too heavy ... Saturday she slept, and at midnight became unconscious, quietly breathing her life away till three; then, with one last look of her beautiful eyes, she was gone.
At the moment of her death, Louisa, her mother, and the doctor saw a ghost-like mist rising from Lizzie's body. Her funeral was a small affair, with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Franklin Benjamin Sanborn serving as pallbearers.
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