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This authoritative, accurate text of the first edition (1868-69) of Little Women is accompanied by textual variants and thorough explanatory annotations. "Backgrounds and Contexts" includes a wealth of archival materials, among them previously unpublished correspondence with Thomas Niles and Alcott's own precursors to Little Women. "Criticism" reprints twenty nineteenth-century reviews. Seven modern essays represent a variety of critical theories used to read and study the novel, including feminist (Catharine R. Stimpson, Elizabeth Keyser), new historicist (Richard H. Brodhead), psychoanalytic (Angela M. Estes and Kathleen Margaret Lant), and reader-response (Barbara Sicherman). A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.
Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1832. Her family later settled in Concord, Massachusetts, where they lived near Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. At a young age, Alcott took on some of the family's financial burdens and worked as a domestic, a teacher, and a writer. In 1868 and 1869, fame and fortune came with the publication of Little Women. The author of numerous novels and an active campaigner for temperance and women's suffrage, Alcott died in 1888. Susan Straight is an award-winning fiction writer whose recent novel, Highwire Moon, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her other novels include Aquaboogie, I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots, and Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights. She was born in Riverside, California, and lives there with her three daughters.