Anne Boyd Rioux

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Biography

Anne Boyd Rioux is the author and editor of six books about nineteenth-century American women writers, most recently Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, published by W.W. Norton in August 2018. She is also a professor of English at the University of New Orleans and the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, one for public scholarship.

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Schedule

11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
State Capitol Building, House Committee Room 1
Book Talk
Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters

12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookselling Tent
Book Signing

2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
State Capitol Building, House Committee Room 2
Discussion
Great American Read Debate


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Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters

On its 150th anniversary, discover the story of the beloved classic that has captured the imaginations of generations.

Soon after publication on September 30, 1868, Little Women became an enormous bestseller and one of America’s favorite novels. Its popularity quickly spread throughout the world, and the book has become an international classic. When Anne Boyd Rioux read the novel in her twenties, she had a powerful reaction to the story. Through teaching the book, she has seen the same effect on many others.

In Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, Rioux recounts how Louisa May Alcott came to write Little Women, drawing inspiration for it from her own life. Rioux also examines why this tale of family and community ties, set while the Civil War tore America apart, has resonated through later wars, the Depression, and times of changing opportunities for women.

Alcott’s novel has moved generations of women, many of them writers: Simone de Beauvoir, J. K. Rowling, bell hooks, Cynthia Ozick, Jane Smiley, Margo Jefferson, and Ursula K. Le Guin were inspired by Little Women, particularly its portrait of the iconoclastic young writer, Jo. Many have felt, as Anna Quindlen has declared, “Little Women changed my life.”

Today, Rioux sees the novel’s beating heart in Alcott’s portrayal of family resilience and her honest look at the struggles of girls growing into women. In gauging its current status, Rioux shows why Little Women remains a book with such power that people carry its characters and spirit throughout their lives.

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