Little Women

Publication history

The first volume of Little Women was published in 1868 by Roberts Brothers.[36] The first printing of 2,000 copies sold out quickly, and the company had trouble keeping up with demand for additional printings. They announced: "The great literary hit of the season is undoubtedly Miss Alcott's Little Women, the orders for which continue to flow in upon us to such an extent as to make it impossible to answer them with promptness."[9]:37 The last line of Chapter 23 in the first volume is "So the curtain falls upon Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Whether it ever rises again, depends upon the reception given the first act of the domestic drama called Little Women."[37] Alcott delivered the manuscript for the second volume on New Year's Day 1869, just three months after publication of part one.[10]:345

Versions in the late 20th and 21st centuries combine both portions into one book, under the title Little Women, with the later-written portion marked as Part 2, as this Bantam Classic paperback edition, initially published in 1983 typifies.[38] There are 23 chapters in Part 1 and 47 chapters in the complete book. Each chapter is numbered and has a title as well. Part 2, Chapter 24 opens with "In order that we may start afresh and go to Meg's wedding with free minds, it will be well to begin with a little gossip about the Marches."[37] Editions published in the 21st century may be the original text unaltered, the original text with illustrations, the original text annotated for the reader (explaining terms of 1868-69 that are less common now), the original text modernized and abridged, the original text abridged.[39]

The British influence, giving Part 2 its own title, Good Wives, has the book still published in two volumes, with Good Wives beginning three years after Little Women ends, especially in the UK and Canada, but also with some USA editions. Some editions listed under Little Women appear to include both parts, especially in the audio book versions.[39] Editions are shown in continuous print from many publishers, as hardback, paperback, audio, and e-book versions, from the 1980s to 2015.[39][40] This split of the two volumes also shows at Goodreads, which refers to the books as the Little Women series, including Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men and Jo's Boys.[41]


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