Louisa May Alcott is best known for penning "Little Women," but few are aware of the experience that influenced her writing most-her time as a nurse during the Civil War. Caring for soldiers' wounds and writing letters home for them inspired a new realism in her work. When her own letters home were published as "Hospital Sketches," she had her first success as a writer. The acclaim for her new writing style inspired her to use this approach in "Little Women," which was one of the first novels to be set during the Civil War. It was the book that made her dreams come true, and a story she could never have written without the time she spent healing others in service of her country.