Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

Little Women
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Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering- Will Father return home safely?


When Louisa May Alcott released the first section of what we now know as Little Women in 1868, she was reportedly surprised by its instant success. Imagine her shock if she were able to learn of the sheer number of online quizzes readers can now take to find out which March sister they are. Beautiful and docile Meg, artistic and vain Amy, gentle and self-sacrificial Beth, or passionate and tomboyish Jo?

On publication, the coming-of-age tale was a revolutionary text, and it would go on to indelibly alter the shape of future literature. Its exploration of family life, creative aspirations, marriage, social consciousness, feminism and womanhood, and other such universal themes, continues to resonate with modern readers, and sometimes even cause heated debate. While the March sisters may be recognisable as tropes, they are never depicted as such in the novel itself. Their challenges and concerns as young females are treated seriously, not just through Alcott’s clear-eyed depiction of them but also within the narrative too – usually by their mother, Marmee, who has rightfully earned a cult following of her own.

Little Women still has the power to break new hearts and with Greta Gerwig’s new film adaptation just around the corner, now is the perfect time to discover (or rediscover) the March sisters.

Bronte Coates is the digital content coordinator and the Readings Prizes manager.

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