Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1873. Original terra-cotta cloth decorated in blind and gilt.
First Edition of Alcott's first full-fledged novel for adults, in which she portrays the difficulties and rewards of 21-year-old Christie Devon leaving home to make her own way (and WORK) in the real world. The book "describes in relentless detail the wretched working conditions of her day, and perhaps it is not too much to say that, with her [Alcott's] zeal as a reformer, her little novel did almost as much to improve the lot of the working girl as any of the labor agitators" [Worthington]. Though Christie starts out working several odd jobs, she ultimately becomes an activist for social justice and women's rights.
The only gilt design on the binding is a honeybee -- specifically a worker (female) bee. The March sisters in LITTLE WOMEN created a "Busy Bee Society" within their household, and Sarah Lahey authored a 2012 monograph titled "Honeybees and Discontented Workers: A Critique of Labor in Louisa May Alcott." Included are illustrations in the text by Sol Eytinge.
This copy is in terra-cotta cloth (copies were bound also in purple or green, without precedence). It is in near-fine condition -- endpapers cracked, a trace of wear at the extremities. Blanck 173 (noting the possibility that the London edition could have preceded this by a day or two): as with other copies we have had, this copy's original endpapers are teal-grey coated (though Blanck cites brown-coated endpapers). Provenance: the front flyleaf bears the inscription "Cuthbert | Riverdale on Hudson", and "Cuthbert" also appears at the bottom of the last page of text: according to the 1922 Cyclopedia of Hardy Fruits, the Cuthbert raspberry -- "the most commonly grown red raspberry in America ... originated as a chance seedling on the grounds of a Mr. Cuthbert, Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York, and was introduced in 1865." Item #14573