Actress Emma Watson has hidden copies of Little Women across London as part of The Book Fairies’ biggest campaign to date, with 2,000 copies of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel hidden in cities in 38 countries for potential readers to find.
After 122 different editions of Little Women were donated to the cause from multiple publishers worldwide, including Wordsworth, Scholastic, Little, Brown, Vintage and Puffin in the UK, Watson hid a number of UK editions in London on Sunday (15th December).
Watson’s chosen hiding places included a number of effigies and statues dedicated to women: the bust of British-Indian agent Noor Inayat Khan in Gordon Square, Bloomsbury; the Amy Winehouse statue, Camden; the Agatha Christie memorial, Leicester Square; The Women of World War II memorial, Whitehall; the Mary Seacole statue, St Thomas' Hospital; and the Suffragette memorial, Christchurch Gardens.
Each of the books hidden was adorned with a sticker reading “Take this book, read it & leave it for the next person to enjoy” and contained a special handwritten note from Watson, who stars as Meg March in Greta Gerwig’s film adaption “Little Women”, which will be released in UK cinemas on Boxing Day (26th December).
Watson, who also champions empowering and feminist reads with her Goodreads group, Our Shared Shelf, shared her support for The Book Fairies’ campaign on Instagram in two posts that received 2.5million and close to 3 million likes apiece.
“I'm excited to reveal a global effort with @bookfairiesworldwide to hide 2,000 copies of Little Women! #LWBookFairies starts today and features over 100 different editions of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel to celebrate the release of #LittleWomenMovie, every one of which has a special note from me inside," one post read. "38 countries will be involved in the campaign, and it's going to be the largest book fair event ever—follow the hashtag to see where they are being hidden over the next few days! Do you believe in book fairies? #ibelieveinbookfairies”
A quarter of the 2,000 novels were hidden in the UK, where chief book fairy Cordelia Oxley revealed relationships with publishers are particularly strong. As well as in London, copies of the book reached cities including Oxford, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bradford, Plymouth, Bangor (NI), Royal Tunbridge Wells and Leeds. Other areas they could be found included Cornwall and the Outer Hebrides. Even further afield, copies were hidden in the US in New York and California, and across continents in Germany, in Australia, in Hong Kong, and in South Africa. Further drops will be carried out in the days to come, for example in Italy, with the campaign scheduled to be a week long (and still accepting donations of Little Women to sustain activity with more books).
Oxley said she was delighted by reaction to the campaign, which she called “a celebration of the novel” given the large number of publishers involved and efforts of more than 150 book fairies (volunteers, in addition to Watson) to distribute the donated books. The novel is out of copyright, which enabled a host of publishers to be involved in The Book Fairies’ initiative, although Abrams & Chronicle Books (UK) and Abrams (US) are publishing the film tie-ins.
“I started thinking about how we could do something around the launch of the film, around January/ February time, and this gave us a really long lead time,” said Oxley. “Because [Emma] had been a book fairy before—she has hidden books on her own over the past couple of years, she helped with our launch in 2017 and with hiding The Handmaid’s Tale in Paris in 2017 as well—she jumped at the idea! It was all top secret until she announced it. And it was interesting for us trying to keep 150 fairies quiet about it. It was a team effort and an absolute gift for us. She really enjoys reading, she loves stories and the idea of hiding things for people to find, so it’s perfect really.”
She added: “It’s a campaign for a book that is out of copyright which means a lot of publishers had an edition. So we just went out and asked all the publishers we knew and ended up with 122 different editions in total. Seeing all the different covers was so heartwarming—it became less of a promotional event and genuinely, which was what we wanted, a celebration of the novel. The film is a great excuse to celebrate this amazing novel. It was a lot of fun and very different challenge to do it out of copyright.”
The Book Fairies was launched in 2017, since which time 250,000 stickered books have now been distributed while its hashtag has been used over 90,000 times.