Why did the figure of the girl come to dominate the American imagination from the middle of the nineteenth century into the twentieth? In Consumerism and American Girls' Literature Peter Stoneley looks at how women fictionalized for the girl reader the ways of achieving a powerful social and cultural presence. He explores why and how a scenario of 'buying into womanhood' became, between 1860 and 1940, one of the nation's central allegories, one of its favourite means of negotiating social change. From Jo March to Nancy Drew, girls' fiction operated in dynamic relation to consumerism, performing a series of otherwise awkward manoeuvres: between country and metropolis, uncouth and unspoilt, modern and anti-modern. Covering a wide range of works and authors, this book will be of interest to cultural and literary scholars alike.