Reading Little Women

Coming in 2018:

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, will turn 150 years old in 2018. To commemorate its enduring portrait of the transition from girlhood to womanhood, my new book, Reading Little Women, will illuminate how the novel was written and how it has been read ever since.

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Little Women has never been out of print since it was first published in 1868, and it remains one of the essential books girls read while growing up. Although its popularity has waxed and waned over the years, it remains a touchstone for women of many different backgrounds across the globe. A 2014 Harris Poll determined that Little Women ranks number eight among Americans’ favorite books. That same year, the British public voted Little Women the eighth “most influential book” by a woman.  What is it about Alcott’s tale of the March sisters that still enthralls us?

Reading Little Women will provide a behind-the-scenes look at Alcott’s struggles to write the book and her attempts to adapt to the overnight success it became, taking readers on an exploration of the life, times, and places that produced it, as well as the rich history of how it became a children’s and feminist classic. The book will also explore the plethora of adaptations in film and stage that have carried the story well beyond its two covers, making it a site of cultural debate about women’s roles and identities across generations.

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Reading Little Women will be published in fall 2018 by W. W. Norton. The research for the book is supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award.