Persephone are 10 years old this year. They were celebrating at one of their London bookshops on Thursday last week, and as I happened to be in London for work, I went along. The place was thronged with readers lured by the three-for-two offer and the promise of champagne and buns. Perhaps they'd all be consumed by the time I arrived, because tepid mineral water was the order of the day, but I made good use of the special offer, and went home with:
William - an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton, playwright, suffragette and author of Marriage as a Trade and the lyrics to March of the Women, which I've had the pleasure of singing this year. This was Persephone's first book and I've been hankering after it for some time.
Plats du Jour by Patience Gray and Primrose Boyd, a book that brought continental food within reach of British cooks during the late 1950s, or at least within reach of their imaginations.
and finally Miss Buncle's Book which tells of the impact on a small English village when one of their number publishes a bestseller which consists of thinly-veiled portraits of the local characters.
Despite the cock-up on the catering front at their birthday party, I can wholeheartedly recommend Persephone's output to anyone interested in women's writing and the 20th century - although there are some earlier books too for diehard Victorianists. There are some marvellous books to be found in that elegant grey livery, and Persephone are responsible for leading me to some inspiring work, particularly Leonard Woolf's The Wise Virgins which gave me the theme for my MA dissertation, the marvellous Every Eye by Isobel English, and Marghanita Laski's tense, powerful Little Boy Lost, the book that led me to Persphone after reading Nicholas Lezard's review in the Guardian. Happy birthday, Persephone, and here's to another shelf-ful of French grey spines.