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

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Volume 23

Protest, Culture & Society

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The Virago Story

Assessing the Impact of a Feminist Publishing Phenomenon

Catherine Riley

198 pages, Notes, Bibliog., Index

ISBN  978-1-78533-808-3 $120.00/£89.00 / Hb / Published (April 2018)

ISBN  978-1-78533-855-7 $29.95/£23.95 / Pb / Published (April 2018)

eISBN 978-1-78533-809-0 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $29.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Riley gives excellent detail of the difficulties Virago faced in being at once a radical, political committed feminist enterprise and a successful commercial publisher…Riley’s book serves as a valuable addition to a growing scholarship of this period of British feminism and will provoke some sentimental recognition in any reader who has a treasured pile of green spines on their shelves.” • Cercles

“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


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.

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.

Subject: Gender Studies and SexualityCultural Studies (General)History: 20th Century to Present
Area: Northern Europe


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