top of page

LITTLE WOMEN, Part First and Second, by Louisa May Alcott

Published by Roberts Brothers, Boston, MA

LITTLE WOMEN Part First (1869)  First Edition / Early Printing illustrated by May Alcott.

LITTLE WOMEN Part Second (1869)  First Edition/First State.

12mo, bound in original gilt-stamped green cloth, brown coated endpapers. Housed together in a custom clamshell box.


A rare treasure, this matched set was owned by Edward W. Francis whose name and date "May 28, 1869" appears inside both volumes.



Louisa May Alcott wrote and published LITTLE WOMEN in 1868. Louisa's younger sister May Alcott illustrated the book for her with four illustrations. LITTLE WOMEN was published by Roberts Brothers, Boston, and, to Louisa's surprise, became a best seller. In November of 1868, Roberts Brothers asked Louisa to write a sequel which she did in a few months, sending the completed manuscript to Roberts Brothers on New Year's day of 1869. Louisa simply titled the book, LITTLE WOMEN Part Second. 2,000 copies of the First Edition/First printing were printed.


LITTLE WOMEN Part Second was published in 1869.


As sales and demand soared, additional printings from the first edition plates of Part First continued. Four early-state bindings have been observed which are uniform with the first edition/first printing. These early bindings do not have the words "Part First" on the spine. Later reprints from the First Edition plates have "Part First" written on the spine. In this way, it is evident the LITTLE WOMEN Part First offered here is one of the earlier First Edition / Early Printing states [BAL 158].


As LITTLE WOMEN's success grew, Roberts Brothers decided to discontinue using May Alcott's illustrations in Part First. At the time Louisa wrote LITTLE WOMEN Part First, the Alcotts were not a wealthy family and May Alcott was not a well-trained artist. Only after the books' success was Louisa able to send her younger sister to study art abroad. May eventually became a fine artist. The LITTLE WOMEN Part First in this set is one of the scarce editions illustrated by May Alcott who was the model for "Amy March".


Condition Notes:


Custom Made Presentation Box: In Very Good/ Near fine Condition with some very light scuffing to green cloth, this custom presentation box was made just for this LITTLE WOMEN set, and its gilt will shine brightly in any library placement.


LITTLE WOMEN Part First, First Edition/ Early Printing (1869)

Outside in Good Condition. Green cloth and Gold Gilt remain bright and clear. There is some chipping and loss of gilt at the top of the spine; some rubbing to gilt at bottom of spine.

Bumping to corners with exposure of boards. ~1/4 hole in spine (see photo).


Inside: Fair Condition. The binding has been tightened but remains very fragile and in poor condition towards the middle of the volume where the stitching remains intact but very loose. Book signature section between pages 145-160 is attached by a single stitch. In short, don't hand this book to a toddler to read. Give them a paperback and put this one in your glass case.


On the front chocolate endpaper, there is pasted an unusal and lovely image of Louisa May Alcott with a plate signature. 


All four May Alcott illustrations are present and in good condition. Pages are crisp and clean throughout.


LITTLE WOMEN, Part Second: First Edition / First State [BAL 159]

Good condition. Some bumping to the top of spine with small loss of gilt. Wear at bottom of spine with cosmetic crack in cloth just below the words "Roberts Bros" and over the gold gilt decor line at bottom. Some bumping to corners with minimal exposure of boards. Inside, the binding is good and secure. Some cracking and exposure of hinges, particularly near the middle, but not effecting structure. Pages are crisp and clean.


Over the advertisements at the back, there is pasted a newspaper clipping from The Evening Mail, New York, Friday, April 24, 1874. The clipping contains an account of Louisa's response to a fan regarding a scene from her 1871 book LITTLE MEN. After the advertisements, on the second-to-last end paper, there is a damp stain on the top of the paper. Stain reflects faintly on the last end paper but otherwise does not appear anywhere else in the book.


Passing through Concord, Massachusetts- the town where they were penned- this LITTLE WOMEN set will make a special edition to a Louisa May Alcott collector's library.


For additional photographs and questions, please email


LITTLE WOMEN, Part First and Second, by Louisa May Alcott

    bottom of page