Louisa May Alcott used her younger sister Elizabeth as the model for the character of Beth in Little Women. A quiet and gentle girl, she contracted scarlet fever while helping a poor German family, but recovered. Her health, however, was permanently impaired, and she died of a "wasting illness" two years later. Louisa wrote about it 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."