Appearing on September 30, 1868, Little Women was an instant success.
Readers immediately began sending author Louisa May Alcott directives for what should happen next to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, along with their wealthy, handsome next door neighbor Theodore “Laurie” Laurence. She set to work, happy to give her fancy play as she invented futures for her characters, but determined that Jo and Laurie would not marry, despite readers’ pleas.
The second part appeared in April 1869, and the novel has never been out of print, remaining at the forefront in the cultural consciousness for 150 years. In PBS’ Great American Read (2018), it ranked 8th of 100 enduring literary works, and it has inspired a wealth of retellings and adaptations, among them a BabyLit volume (2016), a BBC/ Masterpiece miniseries (2017), a contemporary feature film adaptation featuring Lea Thompson as Marmee (2018), and Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo’s multiracial graphic novel, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy (2019). On the horizon looms Greta Gerwig’s 2019 feature film starring Meryl Streep as Aunt March, Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Emma Watson as Meg, and Timothée Chalamet as Laurie.
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of this culturally and historically important novel, the Department of English is a hosting a very special event on Thursday, April 25th, at the Dusty Bookshelf. This “Celebration” will include a dramatic reading of portions of Little Women, some brief critical perspectives on it, and some original poetry by Macy Davis inspired by Alcott and her work. There will also be lively conversation on the novel and its enduring significance. We will end with socializing, refreshments, and a giveaway that includes copies of Alcott’s work and other gifts or prizes. The event will be informal and celebratory. It is open to everyone, and there is no charge for attending. Please join us!
Little Women 150: A Celebration
Thursday, April 25, 4:00-5:30
The Dusty Bookshelf
We would like to thank our sponsors for this event: The Department of English, The Michael Donnelly Faculty Award in English, and The Dusty Bookshelf. We are very grateful for your support that is making this celebration possible. Thanks as well to Kristen Emig for designing our flyer. And please follow our sesquicentennial journey through Little Women at: https://lw150.wordpress.com/.
— Anne Phillips, Professor, and Greg Eiselein, Donnelly Professor of English and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar