Persephone was goddess and queen of the underworld in Greek mythology, but there’s no need to brave the dark forces to get to Persephone Books. In fact, they’re just in Bloomsbury, right in the centre of London’s classic literary neighbourhood. So here’s Culture Stories’ ode to a publishing project and bookshop literally (and literarily) bringing women authors back from the dead.
1. They’re all about girl power
Forgotten, erased, or just ignored – a lot of female writing talent has been lost through the ages or at least dressed up in pants and given a male pseudonym. Persephone Books gives their work a new lease on life and chance of publication.
2. They’re bringing authors back from the dead, no zombies required
Persephone Books turns 15 this year and it continues to push ahead in their mission to publish the works of forgotten (mainly) female writers. Long live print!
3. They’re a bookshop of one’s own
In the little Bloomsbury haven that is their bookshop, Persephone Books highlights over 100 authors whose work might otherwise be stuck in the confines of library archives and dusty manuscripts. It makes for a very special place, one that feels at once like a vintage harkening back and a brave new world for women authors reclaiming the public’s attention.
4. They stick to their guns
Persephone Books is a specialty publisher, gaining a cult following because they stick to their proverbial guns. They publish only what they truly love with great conviction and flair.
5. They love grey
Persephone prints each novel with the exact same classic grey cover, a sort of dovetail colour in a matte and soft texture paper. It’s a particular grey: part brutalist cement, part oddly cosy, and part a colour that fashionable girls might co-opt into their manicures. The rationale for their grey obsession is really simple: “Persephone books are all grey because – well – we really like grey. We also had a vision of a woman who comes home tired from work, and there is a book waiting for her, and it doesn’t matter what it looks like because she knows she will enjoy it.”
6. They dare to live a little
The most famous example of their work is the incredibly successful resurrection of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. It’s the hilarious 1939 story of middle-aged and out of luck governess who decides to take a risk and live dangerously for the first time in her life. The book became a bestseller and a Hollywood feature film. It’s a delight!
7. Their founder is a real inspiration
Nicola Beauman is a founder and #girlboss for the ages. She’ll probably hate the use of the # mid sentence, but we couldn’t resist. Beauman is an author, business woman, mother of five, publisher, editor and lover of daffodils. Razor sharp with an impeccable taste in books.
8. They host a book club
The Persephone Book Group is on the first Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the bookshop. Go along for some lively debate and Madeira wine. Next up they’re reading Tell It to a Stranger by Elizabeth Berridge.
9. The Persephone Notebook
It looks exactly like a normal Persephone book, but the Persephone Notebook has 192 blank pages ready for you to write or draw on. We’ve heard some people are so into it that they write a page about each Persephone book they have read. We keep ours as a diary.
10. Simple pricing
All Persephone books cost £12 – that’s that.
Images are courtesy of Persephone Books