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Annotated Reference Guide to Collectible Books

Alcott, Louisa May

It was the 1868 publication of Little Women that saw Louisa May Alcott produce the work which made her famous today. The book is loosely based on her own childhood growing up in New England. There was originally a second part of the book produced in 1869 called Good Wives; however subsequently the two parts were published together.

Alcott wrote more than a dozen other novels, and hundreds of short stories during her lifetime. This includes two sequels to Little Women: Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Alcott wrote under pseudonyms during her early career so there are also a number of novels not immediately identifiable as her work.

Being such a collectable book, a good quality, first edition of Little Women, published by the Roberts Brothers can fetch upwards of $15,000 at auction. Her less famous works however, largely fail to come close to realising these kinds of prices; first editions of Little Men (1871) can be bought for $500 and Jo’s Boys (1886) is available for less than $300.

Alcott’s first published work was Flower Fables which had an initial print run of just 1,600 copies and came styled in a “gift” format. A good quality first edition of this book can fetch $2,000 at auction.

Even putting the literary acclaim to one side, the prices achieved by first editions of Little Women put it firmly into the “highly collectable” bracket. For a collector wanting to obtain lesser works by Alcott, there are real opportunities.