One hundred and fifty years ago, at the request of her publisher, Louisa May Alcott sat down reluctantly to write 'a girls' book'. Knowing that, contrary to society's expectations, girls often had to be brave, resourceful and bold, that the private lives of girls were colourful and surprising, Alcott wrote a book in which girls would recognise themselves. She drew on her own experiences and those of her impoverished New England family in writing her new novel, and declared, when she was finished, that it was better than she expected: 'Not a bit sensational, but simple and true, for we really lived most of it, and if it succeeds that will be the reason of it. . .'
Simple, true, and keenly resonant with life, spirit and affection, Little Women did succeed, delighting readers across the world, and it has never been out of print since its first publication in 1868. Whichever sister you are drawn to, be it sensible, romantic Meg or sweet, sunshiny Beth, whether you are burning with ambition like Jo, or share with Amy the wish for a more beautiful nose, the March girls are all irresistible, and will go on winning hearts and capturing imaginations for the next 150 years to come.