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Written in six weeks, and at first thought by its editor to be 'dull', this story of an American family - four sisters and their mother living through the months while father is away in the Civil War - has a universal and enduring appeal. The reason is clear. Louisa Alcott based her story on her own experience of family life. 'Not a bit sensational', she wrote, 'but simple and true, for we really lived most of it. ' When published in 1868, the book was illustrated by May Alcott, Louisa's mother. GOOD WIVES, a sequel to LITTLE WOMEN, was published in 1869, taking up the story of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy three years on. In 1912 an English artist, Millicent Etheldreda Gray, with a reputation for closely-worked studies of domestic settings, was commissioned by Hodder and Stoughton to paint twelve watercolours for this most long-lasting of all family stories. A new feature film of LITTLE WOMEN written and directed by Greta Gerwig was released in December 2019, starring Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Florence Pugh as Amy, Emma Watson as Meg and Eliza Scanlen as Beth.