Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

Illustrated by Rebecca Green

Introduced by Jane Gardam

Illustrated by Rebecca Green and introduced by Jane Gardam, this gorgeous Folio Society edition of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women celebrates its status as a timeless classic, an early feminist novel and a wonderfully engaging read.

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Prior to the publication of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott earned her living writing Gothic pulp fiction. So when her publisher Thomas Niles asked her to write a novel for girls, she did so reluctantly, and yet, in just ten weeks, Alcott wrote what was to become one of the best-known novels of all time. This semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story follows four sisters growing up in rural 19th-century New England, and the independent and outspoken main character is based on the author herself.

An instant bestseller on publication in 1868, Alcott went on to write a sequel the following year, published under the title Good Wives, which is also included in our edition. The two parts were published as a single novel in 1880; the story has never lost its appeal, and, 150 years later, the feminist leanings of the female-led narrative still resonate. This hugely popular Folio edition celebrates the novel’s classic status with a stunning gold-blocked binding and exquisite printed endpapers. Nine captivating illustrations by American artist Rebecca Green, and a specially commissioned introduction by celebrated author Jane Gardam, acknowledge the novel’s enduring themes of human relationships and female empowerment.

  • Production Details

    Bound in blocked buckram
    Set in Perpetua with Mahogany Script display
    528 pages
    Frontispiece and 9 colour illustrations
    Printed endpapers
    Plain slipcase
    9″ x 6½″ 

  • Specially commissioned introduction and illustrations

    Rebecca Green is a hugely talented multi-disciplinary American illustrator whose work has featured in books, magazines and on posters, as well as in community projects and exhibitions. She has also written and illustrated a number of children’s books. With her focus on female protagonists and visual storytelling, Green is the perfect artist to illustrate a classic novel known for its timeless depiction of female relationships. Her beautiful portraits have a contemporary feel, yet sympathetically reflect the novel’s era, while the personalities of the characters shine through in their facial expressions, clothing and manner. Green’s illustrations are joined by a specially commissioned introduction from acclaimed novelist Jane Gardam, who writes of her personal attachment to the novel and the balance it achieved between fostering female independence and catering to an audience with an appetite for conventional narratives.

  • A feminist novel that questioned the norm

    Writing specifically for a female audience was something that likely didn’t come naturally to Alcott. A self-confessed tomboy, the writer had little personal or professional interest in courting and marriage, famously stating: ‘I’d rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe.’ But as such topics were considered requisite for novels marketed at young women of the time, Alcott faced a dilemma. Ultimately, Alcott wove her own personal ideologies into Little Women: the novel is coloured by her early years growing up with three sisters, but also her later experiences as an active member of the suffrage movement, an abolitionist whose childhood home was a stop on the Underground Railroad and a nurse who served during the Civil War. As a result, the characters of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are three-dimensional, independent thinkers, and authentic voices of their time.


    Louisa May Alcott (1832–88) was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Concord, Massachusetts. She was the second of four daughters of the Transcendentalist Bronson Alcott, and counted among her acquaintances the Emerson and Thoreau families. Her father’s somewhat impractical ideals meant that the family lived in poverty, especially after a disastrous cooperative-living experiment (which inspired her to write Transcendental Wild Oats, 1873); but after publishing many stories in weekly papers, a memoir of her Civil War nursing experiences, several abolitionist romances, and a novel, Moods (1864), Alcott achieved success and financial security with Little Women (1868–9) and its sequels, Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886).


    Jane Gardam was born in North Yorkshire in 1928 and spent her childhood in the country before winning a scholarship to study English at what is now Royal Holloway, University of London. Gardam began her writing career with children’s books and her first published book, A Long Way from Verona (1971), won the Phoenix Award. Her first novel for adults, God on the Rocks (1978), was adapted for television and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She has won the Whitbread/Costa Prize twice, for The Hollow Land (1981) and The Queen of the Tambourine (1991). Old Filth (2004), her best-selling novel about the Hong Kong barrister Edward Feathers, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and was followed by The Man in the Wooden Hat (2009; winner of the LA Times Book Prize) and Last Friends (2013), which was shortlisted for the Folio Prize in 2014.


    Born in in Owosso, Michigan, Rebecca Green has also lived and worked in Arizona, Colorado and Tennessee, and she currently calls Osaka, Japan, home. In 2010, Green graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design in Michigan with a BFA in Illustration. Since then, she has carved out a successful career in both commercial illustration and fine art, working for clients including The Wall Street Journal, Harper Collins and Random House, while also creating work for exhibitions and personal projects. Green is the author and illustrator of a number of children’s books, as well as the illustrator for many more.


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