20th Century, Reviews: resources, books, museums

A literary treat – Good Wives, 1910s edition (and the HSF Literature challenge)

UPDATE: As a bonus, this post is going to serve as the page for the Literature challenge, so leave your comments about your Literature-themed garments here!

Just in time for the Literature themed Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge, I found this beautiful  ca. 1910 edition of Good Wives to add to my bookshelf:

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, 1910s edition

Isn’t it gorgeous?

And it has the most glorious record of who it first belonged to:

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, 1910s edition

Awwww…  Second prize for attendance is a bit sad though…

Look at the inside illustrations:

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, 1910s edition

I would happily make pretty much every-single one of these dresses!

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, 1910s edition

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, 1910s edition

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, 1910s edition

The fashions are impressively accurate, as long as you don’t mind that they are more 1882 than 1872: a decade later in style than the books chronology would support.

They are particularly impressive when compared with the illustration in my previous edition of Good Wives, which dates to the ’40s.

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, late 1940s edition

Tee hee!  Isn’t it hilarious?

It does make me froth at the mouth that they would pick the wimpiest scene in the whole book to illustrate though.

The cover isn’t as pretty either:

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, late 1940s edition

Now I have to decide what to do with my previous edition of the book.  It’s not nearly as pretty, but I’m still rather fond of it.  But I don’t need two…



  1. What a glorious edition. I love finding beautiful old books and it is always an extra bonus if there is a book plate stating who it belonged to.

  2. Love love love the colourway of that cover – what a gorgeous find!

  3. Lynne says

    What a treasure! Where did you find it? Don’t you love the way illustrations so often reflect more of the era of the printing than of the time they are set in? Your 40s illustration is just so… 40s!

    As to the fate of the second copy – maybe there could be a give-away? When an occasion arises.

    • It’s it lovely? My library doesn’t begin to compare to yours, but this is a nice gem for it!

      Finding the book was such a lucky chance – I walked past the local Sallies just as they were doing their window display, and they were putting this out. I rushed in and asked if it was for sale, or when it would be on sale. They said I could leave my number and they would call me when it came off display. I did, but wasn’t hopeful. I happened to be walking past again exactly two weeks later, saw the display was being changed again, and rushed in. They were just about to put the book on the shelf, and I nabbed it – for $4!

      I’ve thought about including my second edition in a giveaway, but I kinda love the contrast between it and the 1910 edition.

  4. Oh is that from Quilters? I get lost in there pining over beautiful books like this – that gorgeous arts and crafts artwork on the covers. Remarkably plausible illustrations too; the 1940’s one is much more what one would epect! A great find! 🙂

  5. Maire Smith says

    Have you ever read the costume descriptions in Eight Cousins?

    • Oh yes, it’s a really interesting look at Alcott’s particular brand of reform dress. My favourite Alcott costume descriptions are in An Old Fashioned Girl though – beautiful discussions on piecing and bonnet trimming.

      • Maire Smith says

        Yes, I love the pieced sleeve description in An Old Fashioned Girl!

  6. It’s lovely! The first edition illustrations are gorgeous.

    It amuses me greatly to see very old depictions of even earlier eras that get the clothing completely wrong. I’ve got an Edwardian book that has a picture in it of a “Typical colonial household” that was supposed to illustrate the differences between Edwardian and colonial lifestyles, but the clothes in the drawing were just awful. Also, the statue of Robbie Burns in my hometown(C. 1908) has lace up shoes. That can’t be right, can it?

    Old books are marvelous things, it’s always wonderful to find them in book stores for super cheap.

  7. Oooh I love old books, so thanks for sharing! I’m right there with you on the second place attendance award sadness. I also laugh when I see what scenes they choose to illustrate…they’re so random and not always important to the story!

    • You’re welcome! It means people can’t complain that rewarding students for every.little.silly.thing isn’t a new phenomena 😉

      The illustrations are quite random – the illustrator seems to have a thing for Amy – 3 out of 4 are focused on her, and Jo gets the most minor look in!

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