The Virago Story

The Virago Story : Assessing the Impact of a Feminist Publishing Phenomenon

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The 1970s witnessed a renaissance in women's print culture, as feminist presses and bookshops sprang up in the wake of the second-wave women's movement. At four decades' remove from that heady era, however, the landscape looks dramatically different, with only one press from the period still active in contemporary publishing: Virago. This engaging history explains how, from modest beginnings, Virago managed to weather epochal transformations in gender politics, literary culture, and the book publishing business. Drawing on original interviews with many of the press's principal figures, it gives a compelling account of Virago's place in recent women's history while also reflecting on the fraught relationship between activism and commerce.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 206 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 17.78mm | 408.23g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1785338080
  • 9781785338083

Table of contents


PART I: 1973-1983

Chapter 1. Virago's hands-on brand of feminism
Chapter 2. Changing the literary landscape

PART II: 1983-1994

Chapter 3. 'Alternative, autonomous, and viable': Feminist publishing and the mainstream
Chapter 4. Fragmenting feminism and diversifying women's writing

PART III: 1994-2004

Chapter 5. Working women and the changing face(s) of the book industry
Chapter 6. Third waves and disconnections

PART IV: 2004-2017

Chapter 7. Virago's place in the new millennium's literary marketplace
Chapter 8. Twenty-first century feminism(s) and Virago's role for women's writing


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Review quote

"Riley's book does a terrific job of laying out the context in which Virago first appeared and its transformations over time. Not only does it evocatively capture a historical moment, but it also serves as an important case study in business history, provides a critical intellectual history of feminism, and even alters our understanding of the book itself." * Jennifer Scanlon, Bowdoin College"Scholars in the fields of book history, publishing studies, and gender studies will welcome the arrival of this book-an important and long overdue study charting how one of the world's most established feminist presses not only survived but also found ways to adapt and thrive in a radically restructured political and publishing landscape." * Kate Eichhorn, The New School
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About Catherine Riley

Catherine Riley received her doctorate from Birkbeck College. Her research focuses on trends in gender theory and praxis, particularly as it applies to publishing and social change.
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