Rediscover the beloved classic Little Women and its lasting power as it celebrates its 150th anniversary.

 Soon after its publication on September 30, 1868, Little Women became an enormous bestseller and one of America’s favorite novels. It quickly traveled the world and since has become an international classic. When Anne Boyd Rioux read it in her twenties, it had a singularly powerful effect on her. Through teaching it, she has seen its effect on many others.

In Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, she recounts how Louisa May Alcott came to write the book, drawing inspiration for it from her own life. She also examines why this tale of family and community ties, set while the Civil War tore the country apart, has resonated through later wars, the Great Depression, and times of changing opportunities for women.

Alcott’s novel has moved generations of women, among them many writers. Simone de Beauvoir, J. K. Rowling, bell hooks, Cynthia Ozick, Jane Smiley, Margo Jefferson, and Ursula K. Le Guin were all inspired by Little Women, particularly its portrait of the iconoclastic young writer, Jo. Many women writers have felt as Anna Quindlen has declared, “Little Women changed my life.”

Today, Rioux sees the novel’s beating heart in its portrayal of family resilience and its honest look at the struggles of girls growing into women. In gauging its current status, she shows why it remains a book with such power that people carry its characters and spirit throughout their lives.


“I first read LITTLE WOMEN in 1963, when I was seven years old. I started to call my mother Marmee and to force my younger cousins to perform in plays that I wrote. And of course my hero became Jo March. In subsequent readings over the years, my love for the novel has only grown and deepened. Reading Anne Boyd Rioux’s engaging MEG JO BETH AMY: The story of LITTLE WOMEN and why it matters, has made me pick up the book yet again with renewed insight and inspiration. Every fan of LITTLE WOMEN will delight in reading this. And all the women—and men—who haven’t read the novel will race to it after reading Rioux.”

–Ann Hood, Author of Morningstar: Growing Up with Books and The Book That Matters Most

“Rioux offers enough detail to entertain and inform without overwhelming the reader. While she notes the novel’s readership has fallen off in recent years, one hopes her well-crafted work will help revive interest in a work she rightfully argues should be placed alongside Tom Sawyer as an enduring American classic.”–Publishers Weekly

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters masterfully peels away the layers of complexity in Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel.  Reflecting astute research and scholarship, Rioux’s book is immensely entertaining and informative and can be easily enjoyed by teachers, scholars, and the multitude of Little Women lovers around the world.”

–Daniel Shealy, editor of Alcott in Her Own Time

“What a marvelous investigation of Louisa May Alcott’s slyly subversive Little Women! Anne Boyd Rioux has given us a thorough and insightful examination of the enduring appeal of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, and why generations of readers have claimed the March sisters as their own. ”  

–Katharine Weber, author of The Little Women

“An enlightening, well-documented argument for why this novel is essential—will inspire readers to become acquainted or reacquainted with this influential classic.”–Kirkus Reviews


Also forthcoming this summer is a a new deluxe edition of Little Women, which I have edited for Penguin Classics. Cover image and ordering information coming soon.

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