During her civil war service as a nurse, Louisa took care of the wounded soldier John Suhre. John who was a German descendant made an ever-lasting impression on Louisa and she captured his character to her first successful novel Hospital sketches. What we know about John is that he had a very mild temper, Louisa describes him as the “prince of patients” and he looked a lot like the book Friedrich. Tall, stout, brown hair and a bushy beard. Some Alcott scholars have speculated if there was a romance between them. I don´t know about the romance but in her letters, Louisa describes him as “manly” and “handsome” which indicates that she found him attractive.

“The real-life John had a profound effect on Alcott’s sympathies and memory. As he lay dying, Alcott told her journal that John possessed “all that I could expect or ask from the first gentleman in the land. Under his plain speech & unpolished manner, I seem to see a noble character, a heart as warm & tender as a woman’s, a nature fresh & frank as any child”

Check out my video essay “Love and Sex in Little Women”

Join my Little Women newsletter for more LW analyses and get notified when new episodes appear. https://littlewomenchannel.substack.com/

Get 1-free month on Skillshare https://www.skillshare.com/r/user/niinaniskanen

If you enjoy reading my content, consider subscribing to my feed. Also, if you are not a Medium member and you would like to gain unlimited access to the platform, consider using my referral link right here to sign up. It’s $5 a month and you get unlimited access to my articles and many others like mine. Thanks.



Niina Pekantytär

Niina is an Illustrator, writer and folklorist. Likes cats, tea, 19th century books and period dramas. Host of the Little Women Podcast.