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Persephone Books

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Persephone Books
Persephone Books logo.jpg
FounderNicola Beauman
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters locationLondon, WC1
Publication typesLargely-neglected fiction and non-fiction by women writers

Persephone Books is an independent publisher based in Bloomsbury, London. Founded in 1999 by Nicola Beauman, Persephone Books reprints works largely by women writers of the late 19th and 20th century, though the company also publishes a few books by men. Their catalogue of 135 books[1] include fiction (novels and short stories) and non-fiction (diaries, memoirs and cookery books). Each book has a grey dustjacket and endpaper using a contemporaneous design, with a matching bookmark.

They sell their books mostly through their website, but also have a shop on Lamb's Conduit Street, London.


Persephone Books was founded as a mail-order publisher in the spring of 1999 by writer Nicola Beauman, after she received a small inheritance from her father.[2] Beauman named Persephone after the Greek goddess connected with spring who is "both 'victim and mistress'".[3] Beauman wanted to upend the devaluing of women writers in literary culture and to restore previously lost works to the canon.[4]:242 Its first offices were in Clerkenwell, London. Beauman was inspired by Virago Press, which had published her first book A Very Great Profession: The Woman's Novel 1914-39, and its commitment to reprinting lost classics of women's literature.[2]

Persephone struggled to sell its first publications, but its 2000 reprint of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, the publisher's 21st book, became a bestseller of over 100,000 copies.[2] With that success, Persephone moved to Lamb's Conduit in Bloomsbury and opened a book shop.

As of 2021, Persephone will be moving to Bath to 8 Edgar Buildings.[5]


Front cover of Persephone's reprint for They Knew Mr. Knight
Front cover of Persephone's reprint for They Knew Mr. Knight

Each of Persephone's over 135 books[3] are issued in a uniform grey color, with endpapers that reproduce prints or patterns from the year of the book's first publication.[6] For example, the They Knew Mr. Knight endpapers represent an industrial town in dark colors, reflecting the theme of the title.[7] Each book is typeset in ITC Baskerville.[3] The design was inspired by the simplicity of 1930s Penguin Books and the design of French publications.[8]

Most of its titles were written by women in the early or mid 20th century and focus on representations of the home. In this way, Persephone combines both modernism and feminist literature.[4]:244 The Persephone catalog is described as containing "the type of books where very quiet things happen in very dramatic ways to perfectly normal people without anyone thinking twice about it."[7] In some cases, the publisher has actually adopted the label of "middlebrow" for combining both a literary sensitivity and a desire for driving plot in its book selections.[4]:244 Its catalog also includes books on cooking, memoirs, and collected letters.[4]:242

Persephone also publishes the Persephone Biannually (once the Persephone Quarterly[3]) magazine for subscribers, which includes articles on its newest publications.[8]


Authors published by Persephone Books include:

See also


  1. ^ "Persephone Books". Persephone Books. 12 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Cooke, Rachel (25 November 2012). "One shade of grey: how Nicola Beauman made an unlikely success of Persephone Books". The Observer.
  3. ^ a b c d Clough, Danielle. "Reclaiming Women's Words with Persephone Books". Syracuse University London. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Seshagiri, Urmila (2013). "Making It New: Persephone Books and the Modernist Project". Modern Fiction Studies. 59 (2): 241–287. ISSN 0026-7724. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  5. ^ Elgee, Emma (13 April 2021). "New bookshop to open in Bath and fill prominent empty unit". SomersetLive. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  6. ^ Waldman, Katy (24 June 2015). "How a Homespun Book Publisher Built a Cult Following". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  7. ^ a b Mondor, Colleen (September 2004). "Reading with Persephone Books". Bookslut. Archived from the original on 20 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b Lyall, Sarah (14 April 2019). "A Bookstore of One's Own". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 April 2021.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 5 May 2021, at 09:01
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