A Louisa May Alcott Idyll: The Tasha Tudor Figurines

alcott-figuresMy cousin Megan gave me my Christmas gift today. After the P.O. delivered the package she had ordered from eBay, she came over unannounced to give me “the present of the century.”

“Open this now,” she said when she arrived at my house to find me, for the sixth day in a row, picking up Christmas decorations the cats have knocked off the tree and designated as their toys.  “It will put you in the Christmasy mood.”

It took 20 minutes to cut through the layers of tape and unwind the contents from mummy wrappings of brown paper and bubble wrap.  Inside were nestled  four hand-painted porcelain Little Women figurines, designed by Tasha Tudor and manufactured by Franklin mint.  In order of appearance in the DIY photo above are Beth with kittens, Jo holding a book, Amy sketching, and Meg sewing.

As Megan said, “It makes me want to play dolls.”

Instead, we just rearranged them in different groupings.

I have long been a fan of Louisa May Alcott, as readers of this blog may or may not remember. (I myself have trouble remembering where I read what online.)  Anyway,  my favorite Alcott is An Old-Fashioned Girl, which I wrote about here.  I posted about Eight Cousins here; and spent a lot of time musing on a strange TLS review of Beverly Lyon’s excellent book, The Afterlife of Little Women, here.

Although I do not have a large Alcott collection, I photographed the six books of hers I found on the shelves. This is a blogger kind of photoshoot, is it not?

My first copy of  Little Women was an adapted version, which I no longer have, alas,  purchased at the supermarket when I  was seven. Later I was given a Junior Illustrated Classic, with the complete text.  I longed to  whistle tomboyishly with my hands in my pockets, and cry out, “Christopher Columbus” and “capital!” like Jo.  I also wanted to be a writer.  And I loved the way Jo cares nothing for fashion, or inky pinafores.

Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and “fall into a vortex,” as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.  Her “scribbling suit consisted of a black woolen pinafore on which she could wipe her pen at will, and a cap of the same material, adorned with a cheerful red bow, into which she bundled her hair when the decks were cleared for action.  This cap was a beacon to the inquiring eyes of her family, who during these periods kept their distance, merely popping gin their heads semi-occasionally, to ask, with interest, “Does genius burn, Jo?”

After my first reading of Little Women, I checked out all the Alcotts I could find from the library:  Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, Under the Lilacs, and Jack and Jill, to name a few.

Library of America editions of Alcott

Library of America editions of Alcott

I began to acquire my “adult editions’ of Alcott about a decade ago.  When Library of America published a collection of  Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys  in 2005, I reread these entertaining, witty classics.  In 2014  LOA published a second Alcott edition, comprised of Work (known as the adult Little Women), Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, Stories & Other Writings.

An Intimate Anthology is a wonderful collection, and An Old-Fashioned Girl is my favorite Alcott.

An Intimate Anthology is a wonderful collection, and An Old-Fashioned Girl is my favorite Alcott.

I strongly recommend The New York Public Library edition of An Intimate Anthology, a collection of Alcott’s stories, diary entries, letters, and verse, including Transcendental Wild Oats, about life in her father’s commune, and Hospital Sketches, a fictional account of her experiences as a Civil War nurse.  And, as I have mentioned,  An Old-Fashioned Girl is my favorite of Alcott’s books.

alcott-sensation-fiction-behind-a-mask-inheritanceAnd here are Alcott’s sensational writings!  Behind a Mask is a collection of the thrillers she wrote for money, and The Inheritance, a Gothic romance she wrote at 17.

What is your favorite Alcott book?

Now I just want to sit here and admire my figurines some more.

6 thoughts on “A Louisa May Alcott Idyll: The Tasha Tudor Figurines

  1. What a wonderful gift! I love Tasha’s illustrated Little Women, but An Old Fashioned Girl is my favorite too. The NY Public Library edition of An Intimate Anthology sounds good…I’ll add it to the list of “wants”.

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    • My mother had a ton of knicknacks, and now I see the appeal!:) Oh, I love Tasha Tudor, but have not seen the Alcott illustrations (except online). There was a line of New York Public LIbrary classics for a year or two in the ’90s but they are vanished.

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  2. Yes, a very fine gift indeed! And they lend themselves so well to different poses with your books.
    I’d have to say Little Women is still my favorite because it’s so deeply ingrained in me, but I did like An Old-Fashioned Girl when I finally read it a year or two ago. I will have to look up An Intimate Anthology – that looks fascinating.

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  3. What lovely gifts, Kat – what a thoughtful cousin you have!I read Little Woman in what I think must have been an abridged version, which I was given as a child – I loved it, though bits mystified me (cultural differences, I guess). I lost that somewhere along the line, but was gifted a lovely reissued full version recently which I really must read soon! In fact, I need to read more Alcott generally!

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    • So many of us here were raised on Alcott! Little Women is a masterpiece, but I also really enjoyed Work, known as “the adult Little Women.” Yes, who knew Little Women figurines were what I wanted, but that was so nice of Megan to find them for me. Ebay is bizarre: she found one set for $25, another for $250oo. It’s chaos!

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