The BBC is bringing the much-loved novel Little Women to the small screen.

Heidi Thomas, the writer and creator of Call the Midwife, has adapted Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 coming-of-age classic about four sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March for a new BBC1 series scheduled for next year.

Set against the backdrop of a country divided by Civil War, the story follows the lives of the sisters from childhood to adulthood.

With the help of their mother Marmee, while their father is away at war, the girls navigate what it means to be a young woman, touching on issues ranging from gender roles to sibling rivalry, first love, loss and marriage.

Casting is expected soon for the story which has already been filmed in a variety of guises, most recently in the 1994 film starring Winona Ryder and Kirsten Dunst.

Thomas said: "Little Women is one of the most loved novels in the English language, and with good reason. Its humanity, humour and tenderness never date, and as a study of love, grief and growing up it has no equal. There could be no better time to revisit the story of a family striving for happiness in an uncertain world, and I am thrilled to be bringing the March girls to a new generation of viewers."

Executive Producer Colin Callender added: “This is a character study of young women rich in texture and detail and it’s an honour to be able to bring it to life in this extended form with the great Heidi Thomas, one of the finest writers working in television today.

"In the hands of the exciting directorial style of filmmaker Vanessa Caswill we hope to deliver a new screen version that will speak to contemporary audiences, meet the expectations of the book’s ardent fans and bring a whole new generation to this great classic.”

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The series is a co-production with Masterpiece on PBS and was announced on Thursday night at a BBC drama reception.