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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Little Women - Whitman Edition 1955

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

Before I launch into this post I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who left comments on the last one, and Earthen Magic a special thank for going back to all the associated links and leaving such magical messages.  While I'm in 'thank you mode' I'd also like to tell Yurika from Japan how thrilled I was to get the comments you left on earlier posts - I tried to reciprocate on your blog but couldn't find a place to leave a message.  Everyone else - I won't mention you all by name but you know your friendship means a lot to me.

I always feel a bit self conscious when I put up a post like the last one - on this occasion I nearly took it back down again and would have done so but for receiving the responses I got to it.  Sometimes I do feel I must be delusional and a bit of an eejit for thinking I can write a book - especially when I read what I've produced in the cold light of day!  

Now on to this post.  It was inspired by one Barbara from the ever delightful March House Books Blog featured recently.  You can see Barbara's post here.  Her edition has glorious illustrations by the sublime Rene Cloke - they really are superb.  I'm not the first to respond to Barbara's post - another good blog friend Darlene from Darlene's Foster's Blog feaured this post which includes a photograph of Louisa May Alcott    

Both of these posts prompted me to get out my version of the story and page through it again.  The book I have was published by the Whitman Publishing Company (Wisconsin) in 1955.  It is a 'modern abridged version' but still very wordy for a child running to 283 pages.

I LOVED this book when I was very young - maybe a little bit surprising as I tended to be drawn to bright and shiny things - large format books with vibrant illustrations in full colour.  This edition is the size of a medium hardback novel and includes pen and ink illustrations by Jill Elgin with muted olive green washes of colour.

I think what makes these illustrations so successful is how wonderfully they portray both the characters and events of the book.  And there are a lot of them.  I've only included a handful here but this edition is packed full of them.  

These two were amongst my favourites.  I adored the picture of Meg in her unaccustomed finery.  I'd still like to do something with this dress one day - it would be perfect for a paper doll!  I read through this part of the story again and was startled to realise how young these characters were.  Meg is 17 in this scene and Laurie is even younger!

More illustrations follow.  This story was already 100 years old when I first read it - I think why it endures so well is how universal and timeless it is (a bit like Jane Austen)  - and how 'real' and sympathetic the characters are.  (I know as Barbara said you either love it or hate it - as childhood memories go it is so entrenched in my psyche I can't but love it.)  

This one of Meg's wedding is one I've always wanted to incorporate into something.  It has a lovely graphic quality with its circular design and a great sense of movement.

The cover is the only illustration in colour - I must say I was always intrigued by this hat!

Each chapter is prefaced by a small illustration - a handful of these are repeated throughout the book.  There are a few others beside those I'm showing here - the house, a horse and carriage for Laurie and the portraits of the four girls shown on the frontispiece.

Many chapters are introduced with a montage representing one of the girls.  At some point I went through these and identified them all - writing the appropriate initial (in red ink I'm afraid!) underneath each.    

Whitman produced two different series of books at this time - Whitman Classics (of which this is one) and Whitman Adventure and Mystery Books.  Besides Little Women I also owned their Fifty Famous Fairy Tales.  I no longer have this book and would love to see it again.  I've just discovered there is one on offer at Amazon - now should I or shouldn't I ? ....   hmmm ......  


DMS said...

What a beautiful post. So fun to look at different editions of favorite childhood books. I always enjoyed Little Women and it was something my mom and I bonded over. :)

Your version has such great pictures. The splash of green is interesting too and it adds detail to the pictures. I love the one of Meg's wedding with the dancing circle. I had to laugh that you wrote in your book with red ink- I was always doing things like that when I was little. :)

The fairytale book sounds like a good find. I guess it depends on the price!

Have a wonderful day and thanks for sharing your writing last week! We can be too hard on ourselves. You are doing a great job with the book (from what you have let us read). :)

GardenOfDaisies said...

I love children's literature and illustration. If you see a favorite book from your childhood/youth, yes you should grab it right up!! I'm in the process of collecting copies of some of my most favorite fairytales. One of these days I'll do a post on that. Best of luck with the book you are writing!

Terence donnelly said...

A great blog as always and Louise is special to me, I just love her poetry,
Hello! Hello!
come down below.
It's lovely and cool out here in the pool.
On a lilly-pad float, for a nice green boat.
Here we sit and sing,in a pleasant ring,or leap frog play in the jolliest way,Our game has begun come join in the fun.Louise Alcot.
Be well Agman

Darlene said...

Thanks for mentioning my blog post Sharon. I love your copy of Little Women! What wonderful drawings. I just checked my copy and it was also published by Whitman Publishing Company, in 1935! The drawngas are few and in black and white only. MIne is about to fall apart so I must look after it. It was given to me by an aunt who passed away many years ago. I wonder now if it had been hers originally as she was born in 1930.This book evokes happy childhood memories in me as well.

Barbara said...

It's funny you should mention a sense of movement in the wedding picture, I thought the exact same thing when I looked at Meg dancing. You can almost hear the rustle of her skirt as she moves around! I’ve not seen this version before, but I love the illustrations, and you're right they would make wonderful outfits for a paper doll.
Don’t ever doubt you’re writing Sharon, you have a talent, and you must use it. Sorry I sounded just like my mum there!
Thank you so much for mentioning my post on your lovely blog.

earthenmagic said...

...ooooooooooh! ~ dear kindred heart! ~ i doth muchly love the little women tales! ~ i still squeeze mine nose into her books ~ and ~ after umpteen reads ~ still get the same joy ~ as if it's the first time!... ...thank yoU! ~ Sharon! ~ thine words`y muse doth be awesome! ~ love ~ love ~ love what you've written! ~ it made mine dreams rich with a tale imbued with mystery and intrigue!... thee hath found ~ i just had to follow thru' to every post! ~ mine muse was ever sO eager to glean more!... ...may thine week hold blissful autumnal notes ~ and ~ may thee blessed be!...

CraveCute said...

Always loved the book Little Women, nice to see this illustrated version. If the Fairy Tale book is reasonable, go for it! Enjoying things from our childhood is a perk of growing old!!

DeadSpiderEye said...

A really nice book, excellently illustrated, it must fond memories for you. I really enjoyed your last post, it's great to see people making strides in their personal creative endeavours and I'm glad you decided to share it.

DMS said...

I know I stopped by the other day. But- all these posts about Little Women had me looking at my own (with an inscription from my grandma). It is a 1926 USA edition illustrated by Clara M. Burd.

Nice to take a trip down memory lane. :)

Donna Yates said...

Oh, I just love these illustrations. My favorite is the one with the trellis. I've loved trellises forever. Little Women is such a tender book to read. It's story never leaves you.


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