• _Little Women_ is a work composed piecemeal and narrated in more than one generic mode. Alcott’s complete financial dependence on what she could earn from her writing, her ambivalence toward conventional narratives for women, and, most importantly, her alternating submission to and rebellion against the demands (real and imagined) of her readers and her editor/publisher, Thomas Niles–all these factors made Little Women a veritable piece of patchwork. Picking apart its seams through a close attention to the history of its composition and publication suggests that it is these very contradictions, both formal and thematic, that have helped the story achieve the mythic escape velocity it still enjoys.