Neglected classics – but not any more thanks to Persephone Books.

“Persephone Books reprints neglected classics by C20th (mostly women) writers. Each one in our collection of 96 books is intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written.”

As you know I love to sit in my boudoir reading. Some of you may have noticed the uniform grey bindings of the books on the shelves just behind my chair.

Persephone Books produce the most beautiful books, ever – totally thought through with care from beginning to end – from the simple grey covers to the endpapers to the quality paper and print to the Forewords and Afterwords written by well-known authors and others relevant to each book’s content or its provenance.

Each book comes complete with its own bookmark.

As long as you keep buying the books – is that a problem? – they send out a lovely printed newsletter “The Persephone Biannually” free of charge twice a year. In the past it was “The Persephone Quarterly” and  so I have to wait a bit longer these days for my new copy to arrive – Spring/Summer in April and Autumn/Winter in October. The Biannually is always accompanied by a new bookmark.

If you request a copy they’ll also send you their latest annual catalogue. Generally this is published to coincide with the Autumn/Winter magazine.

The publishers operate from their own shop premises in Lambs Conduit Street in Bloomsbury which are a delight to visit. Besides their own books they sell copies of the 50 books which they wish they had or wish they could publish and a selection of relevant secondhand  titles too. Besides books there are some household textiles, some pottery, cards, postcards and their notebook for sale.

Not all of the books are fiction – there’s some cookery, a gardening book, a book about The Sack of Bath in the 1960s, personal memoirs, biography. I certainly don’t have them all. Books can be ordered online, bought from the shop and from good booksellers. For a small extra payment they’ll gift wrap any book. They make perfect presents.

To keep your interest, just in case it is beginning to wane between book publications, you can sign up for an online Persephone Post to drop into your Inbox every day – mine arrives about 9pm each evening. There is also an online book group forum with a new book under discussion each month and you can receive email offers occasionally.

Then there are the real live discussions, talks, films, tea parties and book groups – usually held in London but they have been known sometimes to travel out of town – even as far as Scotland – and once they even went  to New York – to promote their wares and meet their customers.

And what’s best about them is that it was through them that I joined my lovely online reading group of friends around the world in 2004. I have met many of the members, mainly in the UK and mainly in London but also in Stratford upon Avon, Edinburgh, Berlin, Potsdam, Chicago and Massachusetts!

What’s my next Persephone read? In the new year I’ll be reading, along with the group, the latest Dorothy Whipple book to be republished in a smart grey cover – Greenbanks PB95. I already had an ‘original’ copy of the book!

11 comments on “Neglected classics – but not any more thanks to Persephone Books.

  1. Simon T says:

    Lovely post, Barbara! We have much to thank Persephone for, don’t we? Not only the books, by any means. I pretty much have my DPhil to thank them for, let alone all the lovely friends I’ve made!

  2. Thank you, Simon. Yes we do! Good luck and thanks for visiting!

  3. Ann says:

    This lovely post was very timely for me as yesterday when I read it I was feeling sorry that at a very late stage I hadn’t been able to get to the Persephone Open Day on that very day. Persephone Books are one of the delights of my now three year ‘retirement’. It has also taken me to hugely enjoyable book blogs – eg Jane Brockett, Dove Grey Reader, Book Snob and not forgetting Stuck in a Book of course!

    The latest one I’ve come to has been yours and it’s funny because it usually resonates with me in a more personal way eg. I already really, really wanted to go to FM-B exhibition before your post was up, the Geffrye Museum I go every year to the Christmas Past Exhibition and Friends Christmas party, the pile of books on the restaurant table there, with ‘ Interpreters’ on the top of the pile I know the author from way back and I love the walking reminders of my beloved Yorkshire. So thank you MiLady……!

    • Ann, welcome and what a lovely, lovely comment. Thank you for visiting. So there are more kindred spirits out there than I had expected. I’m sorry you missed the Persephone Party yesterday but there will be more and maybe we’ll be at the same event one day.

  4. Christmas and Persephone forever linked in mind for that wonderful surprise of 6 gift wrapped books from my family as a congrats for getting my OU English degree. BH saw a piece in the paper, rang Nicola and had asked her to choose them, so my first was A Far Cry. Ten years ago now and been reading and loving them ever since. I always choose a lovely book to curl up with on Boxing Day and this year it is Greenbanks, so looking forward to it.

  5. The Christmas connection was totally unintentional on my part. I guess we fans all have our ‘First Time We Heard of Persephone’ memory. My first read was also A Far Cry and I wasn’t that keen but the other two Greenery Street and Little Boy Lost won me over totally! Then I read in the Quarterly that an enterprising attendee from the first Persephone Conference in Cambridge had started an online discussion group – and I have never looked back! Thank you (again).

    • First Persephones are always fascinating, I think I read The Making of a Marchioness next and there was surely an early Whipple plus Lettice Delmer,less well-known but I remember enjoying it. It’s true, they have given us something very memorable along with special friendships too.

  6. […] I stayed at a B&B between Sittingbourne and Faversham. I was delighted to find a selection of Persephone Books beside my bed at Dadmans – even though I had read them […]

  7. […] Bernard Shaw, Edna O’Brien, James Joyce, M J O’Farrell (Molly Keane), and I recognised ‘Persephone’ author Norah Hoult (Persephone Book 59 “There were no […]

  8. […] as quickly as they could (and at a very reasonable price!). We knew there would be a stall selling Persephone Books but also enjoyed inspecting all the wonderful and colourful craft and related […]

  9. […] mine is a lovely grey Persephone – but borrowed shamelessly from the internet (thank you, Milady’s Boudoir) for the sake of the glowing cover blurb by Hugh […]

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