Solving the mystery of the Norman Rockwell illustrations re: Little Women

One of our readers submitted the following intriguing comment:

“Katharine Anthony wrote a biographical series on Louisa in the Woman’s Home Companion of February 1938. It was titled THE MOST BELOVED AMERICAN WRITER and illustrated by Norman Rockwell. The Jo in the attic painting is one of at least several that appeared. There is another of Meg and Laurie sitting on the stairs, presumably at the Moffats’ party? Laurie has the appropriate black hair but Meg looks a bit too 1930s. And finally there is “Heart’s Dearest,” Professor Bhaer and Jo under the umbrella in the rain. I believe these can all be purchased as prints from the Rockwell estate, and Jo writing in the attic is printed on birthday party stickers for sale at Orchard House.”

Several of you knew about this and wondered where the pictures could be found. I checked around and Harriet Reisen (check out her website for the paperback version of her bio on Louisa and the DVD) provided some information and a couple of the pictures. Some of these pictures can be purchased as stickers from Orchard House. Here are two of the pictures:

Harriet says that a third picture depicts Jo and Professor Bhaer under the umbrella and says that Orchard House used to sell a poster of that picture. She does not recall what the fourth picture was, although it sounds like it’s the one of Laurie and Meg that our reader referred to.

And here’s a link to more information:

http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/feb-1938-womans-home-companion-w-rockwell-little

Thanks, Harriet!

Katharine Anthony also wrote several biographies including one on Margaret Fuller in 1920 and one on Louisa in 1938. I was lucky enough to pick up an original copy several years ago at a now defunct antique bookstore in Concord. Here’s what the title page looks like:

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24 thoughts on “Solving the mystery of the Norman Rockwell illustrations re: Little Women

  1. Oh, the first Little Women book I read had black and white illustrations, and Under the Umbrella was a favorite.

    When I reread the book this year, the illustrations were not the same. I missed my original read and wonder if the illustrations I enjoyed were the Rockwell ones.

  2. This is fantastic! Thanks so much to you and your readers for responding to my comment. The top painting is the one that I saw at the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Smithsonian. It will be there until January 2.

    You are lucky to have a copy of the book!

  3. adkmilkmaid says:

    As I mentioned, the painting of Jo and Professor Bhaer under the umbrella is titled “Heart’s Dearest.” It is sold as a poster by the Norman Rockwell museum. http://store.nrm.org/browse.cfm/4,816.html

  4. Go to louisamayalcott.net for many archival pictures. We didn’t use the Rockwell illustrations in the American Masters film because of the cost.

  5. Everybookandcranny sent me here after I discussed reading and the Rockwell exhibit on my blog recently. What an amazing book! Thank you so much for calling it to my attention.

    I was sure I had read an illustrated edition of LMA growing up–but having recently run across the book at my parents’ house, I realize the pictures were all in my imagination. She is such a vivid writer. Doing these illustrations must have been quite a joy for Rockwell.

  6. Robert Croft says:

    I had a friend Lorna Doone Brown in Jacksonville, Florida who was raised in NYC. She was an heraldic artist (coats of arms, etc.) and had been educated in the art schools of NYC. We became goods friends during the time that she researched and painted a coat of arms for a family history book that I was doing about 1980-81. We remained friends until her death in 1993. She told me that many artists painted her hands while she was studying art in the late 1920’s and early 30’s. She also told me that she had been a model for Norman Rockwell as Jo when he painted illustrations for Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”.

  7. QNPoohBear says:

    I think I know which bookstore you mean. The Barrow is my favorite bookstore though perhaps I shouldn’t tell you because you’ll buy the books I want! ;-)

    • susanwbailey says:

      Hee hee (evil laugh), I’m going to be in Concord over the next two days … actually I like the Thoreauly Antique shop best although the one across the street is awesome too (is that Barrow?)

  8. Recently I purchased the print of Jo in the attic and Jo and Laurie on the stairs from an estate sale. They are titled Jo and Scrabble, and Jo and Laurie. They were printed by the Crowell Publishing Co. in 1938. Might consider selling. They are in wonderful shape and are in some old frames.

  9. Mindy says:

    Is it possible to get prints of Norman Rockwell’s Little Women-based prints??

  10. Cindi says:

    I recently purchased a set of four prints in the original mailing tube from The Crowell Publishing Company with a copyright date of 1938 on each print.. They are titled: Jo and Laurie; Jo and her Publishor; Jo and Professor Bhaer (also known as “Hearts Dearest”; and Jo and Scrabble, which shows Jo on a sofa in the attic. I would like to sell these but cannot find out too much about these. Can you direct me to a good site to research the value?

    • susanwbailey says:

      I would start with the Norman Rockwell museum at http://www.nrm.org/
      9 Massachusetts 183 Stockbridge, MA 01262
      (413) 298-4100

      If you’re lucky enough to live in the area, you could show it to someone there to appraise.

      I am not at all experienced in the value of art so I can’t really direct you further except maybe to try Antiques Roadshow on PBS or a local art museum to see if they can direct you to a better source.

  11. Hola! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and finally got the courage to go
    ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas!

    Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent job!

  12. Laura says:

    I would like to purchase “Jo and Scrabble” and “Jo and Laurie,” but I cannot find them anywhere. I’m not sure why they are not listed on the Norman Rockwell Museum website. Would someone be able to provide me with any information about tracking down these prints? Thank you.

    • susanwbailey says:

      I would try calling the museum at (413) 298-4100 and asking if they have prints. I tried just now to get on the museum site to get the email information but the site is having problems at the moment. I think though the best way is to call. Let us know how you made out.

      • Laura says:

        Thank you!! I will try that. In the meantime, do you know where I could see an image of “Jo and Laurie”? I’m not sure if it’s on the worthpoint link you posted above, because my anti-virus program blocks it for some reason. I have seen a small picture of it on another website, and from what I saw, it’s lovely! I would, however, like to have a better look incase I have the opportunity to purchase it (hopefully!).

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