Today is International Women's Day, a day to celebrate the achievements of women and challenge biases that still exist throughout the world. This year's theme is Be Bold for Change. IWD are asking us all to take action to drive change for women, and in the absence of organised events near me I'll be writing about some wonderful independent publishers whose focus is work by women (and buying some of their books).
My love for Persephone is well documented. Their books are absolutely gorgeous and span an unexpected number of genres - I can pretty much promise they'll have something for you whatever your tastes! Founded in 1998 by Nicola Beauman Persephone started off in a room above a pub and now has a beautiful office and shop in Bloomsbury. Their focus is 'lost' and neglected fiction by (mainly) women writers. Most of their books are published with beautiful grey dustjackets and covers and endpapers taken from a design from the same year the book was originally published. They're a catalogue publisher - all their books are numbered and you can just ring them up and ask for number 52 (The Village by Marghanita Laski - or any other number) and they'll send them to you. I highly recommend checking out their catalogue - perfect spring afternoon browsing!
Some to try: They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple (one of our favourites), The Children who Lived in a Barn by Eleanor Graham (one of our favourites), Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (on our TBR), Miss Buncle's Book by D.E Stevenson (on our TBR).
I've only recently discovered Linen Press and if I were you I'd be expecting to see their books included in an upcoming box. Founded by Lynn Mitchell in order to publish Childhood's Hill by Marjorie Wilson, she says "I want to read beautifully crafted writing that speaks to women. I want to fall into a novel and not emerge until its ending. I want to gasp at sentences that defy literary gravity." Having recently finished my first Linen Press title I can confirm that she's absolutely achieving this, and their range of books looks pretty great too! Their books have been shortlisted for many prizes as well as the Richard and Judy book club and range in subject from feminism to the second world war and everything in between.
Interesting for being run as a co-operative, Honno was established in 1986 by women who wanted to bring Welsh women writers to a wider audience. They publish novels, autobiographies and short story collections by Welsh writers in English as well as classics in both Welsh and English, and their books also span a very wide range of genres. Their books have been shortlisted for and won a lot of awards over the years!
Across the world there are many other brilliant women's presses and we'll be talking about them here at a later date. We'd love to hear about your favourite publishers and female authors and what you're doing to celebrate International Women's Day! Talk to us in the comments or on twitter.