Library goes big on 150th anniversary of 'Little Women'

Published on Wednesday, 26 September 2018 14:01
Written by Erica Drzewiecki


NEWINGTON - A book that is a childhood favorite is the focus of a series at the Lucy Robbins Welles Library.

Library staff members are inviting you to join them for the 150th anniversary of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” all this month.

The series began Thursday, Sept. 27, with a presentation on the life and works of Alcott by Central Connecticut State University English professor Christine Doyle.

Doyle, who specializes in nineteenth century American literature, wrote her doctoral dissertation on the relationship between Alcott and British author Charlotte Bronte. Her work was turned into a book and her research into both authors has continued to this day.

“The 100th anniversary of Little Women was in 1968 and Madeline Stern found these really astonishing thriller-type stories she had written,” Doyle explained. “It was a great time to be doing Alcott studies because for the first time, we had a great range of the writing she did. She moved from being a children’s writer to someone who had a lot to offer in different areas.”

The LRWL series continues next Thursday, Oct. 4, at 12 p.m. with a viewing of the 1933 film adaptation of Little Women, starring Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett and Paul Lukas.

Then the following Thursday, Oct. 11, there will be a “Brown Bag It with a Book” discussion on the novel at 12 p.m. Doyle will lead the discussion and attendees are welcome to bring their lunch.

“It will be interesting to see what questions come up for people who read it as children and go back to it as adults,” she pointed out.

Doyle remembers receiving the book as a Christmas gift when she was ten or eleven years old. She read it then, but didn’t become fully immersed in it until after her second read in graduate school.

The novel is a coming-of-age story about the four March sisters. It details their passage from childhood to womanhood with all the ups and downs in between.

“The realism of it, showing the day-to-day, honest things kids do, really changed children’s literature,” Doyle said, adding that the book provides a glimpse into life in America during the time.

Alcott went on to write two sequels, “Little Men” (1871) and “Jo’s Boys” (1886). However, it was actually her debut novel that was said to be loosely based on her childhood growing up with three sisters in Concord, Mass.

The book has never gone out of print.

“I think it has meant a lot of things to a lot of different people over time and that’s what’s kept it alive,” Doyle said.

Assistant library director Karen Benner loved it in her youth. Since planning this series with Doyle, she has picked the book up once again.

“I’m finding in reading it, I’m certainly enjoying it just as much - if not more - than I did when I read it years ago,” Benner pointed out. “It’s timeless.”

What gives it that ability? How can women today relate to the characters, in comparison to when it first went to print?

These are questions that could come up in the book discussion. People are encouraged to read the book again before attending.

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or

Posted in Newington Town Crier, Newington News on Wednesday, 26 September 2018 14:01. Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2018 14:03.