Bought 14 Apr 2009 from the Persephone shop on Lambs Conduit St with token from Bridget

How fortuitous that this lovely, wallowy book should come to the top of Mt TBR just when I was in solitary confinement and needed something lovely and wallowy to read!  It also brought back memories of my lovely day trip to London with Ali for Persephone buying purposes, at Easter.

Taking me straight back to my University days in the late 80s/early 90s when reclaiming women writers was the big thing and my Women’s Lit tutor, Peggy Reynolds, was busy on about Aphra Benn etc, this is a survey of women’s writing between WW1 and WW2. Taking themes such as love, sex, psychoanalysis, it looks at these themes in the books which became the mainstay of Beauman’s Persephone Books publishing efforts so many years later.  I’ve read a fair proportion of the books mentioned, which made it a joy to read with that thrill of recognition – oh, is she going to include x by y in this section…?  True to women’s studies, herstory etc, Beauman puts enough of herself and her foremothers in to make it recognisable but not unprofessional.  And in the excellent Afterword to the 1995 edition, not only does she foreshadow her own publishing programme, but also takes issue with the over-feminist theorists of the times between the editions and the critical reaction – which pleased me as, although studying some of this stuff in academia, it always seemed to me to miss the point slightly.

So, a good workwomanlike survey, a lovely reclaiming, and a look at how far we’ve come, both in terms of the beginnings of the liberation of women from their proscribed lives at the end of WW1 to their flowering freedoms in the 1930s, and in terms of the liberation of many of these excellent novels and novelists from languishing in the dusty realms of the out of print list into the fresh, lovely green and grey of Virago and Persephone reprints.