Two Minnesota physicians think they know what killed Louisa May Alcott, who wrote the classic Little Women. It was not mercury poisoning or her artist’s angst, as Alcott speculated, reports the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.
Portrait of Louisa May Alcott, by George P.A. Healy. Courtesy of Orchard House
Ian Greaves, a professor of environmental health, and Norbert Hirschhorn, a former pediatrician at the university, reported in the spring issue of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine that the writer may have had lupus. They arrived at their diagnosis after studying a painting of Ms. Alcott, who died 119 years ago. The physicians noticed a rash on the writer’s cheek and nose that they believe indicates lupus.
“Of course,” Dr. Greaves says, “we could be wrong about the whole thing, too.” —Don Troop