Rabu, 24 Oktober 2012

Persephone 100 (or, how I accidentally became part of their postal team)

Happy 100th title, Persephone Books!

I always use this photo when I blog about Persephone...
I've lived in three houses since this one!
(but I just like this picture so much...)

It really is an amazing achievement - Persephone have brought 100 neglected books (well, 99 and Flush by Virginia Woolf... teehee) back into print, and many of us have read at least one of their titles over the years.  I have them to thank for my arrival in the blogosphere, actually, albeit rather indirectly.  Here goes my chain of actions, from how-I-discovered-Persephone, to how-I-started-blogging...  Prepare yourself for lots of sentences which start with 'I'.

  • I grew up loving Richmal Crompton's William books.
  • I stumbled across her novel Family Roundabout in a secondhand bookshop (in an early edition) and thought I'd try it.
  • I loved it.
  • I saw a Persephone edition of Family Roundabout in Pershore library. (Incidentally, when I was 16 they turned me down for a Saturday job. I feel like writing to them now and saying that I've worked for the BEST LIBRARY IN THE UK [probably] for five years.  Bitter, me?)
  • I read a review of Family Roundabout on Amazon by one Lyn Baines.
  • In those days Amazon included reviewers' email addresses, so I emailed Lyn to enthuse about the book.
  • She told me about an online book group which discussed Persephone titles.
  • I joined... This was in early 2004, when I was 18.
  • About three years later, various people from the group started setting up blogs - including Elaine and Lisa.
  • I decided to follow suit!  And here we are.  Lots of lovely coincidences led to this blog... and how very different my life would be without it.

But that's far from the only wonderful gift Persephone Books have inadvertently given me (we'll get onto the ones they, er, advertently gave me) - what wonderful books!   I've read 41 of their 100 titles (or 42 or their 101, if we include the biography of Elizabeth Taylor) - giving me so much delight for the future.  Many of those were read before I started blogging, but if you select 'Persephone' from my drop-down publisher menu on the left-hand side, you can read the reviews I've put up of Persephone titles.

If you want any suggestions for which to read next - or which to read first, if you've never read a Persephone book - ask in the comments, and I'll do my best to help you out.  Hopefully I know the books well enough to suggest one, so if you tell me what sort of thing you're after, I might well be able to help... that seems to make more sense than just listing off all my favourites.

Now onto the second part of the title to this post!

I was in the British Library last Thursday, reading the play of Miss Hargreaves - so much fun!  (I had no idea that a copy would be there, since it was never published, but apparently they have all the plays submitted to the Lord Chamberlain for approval - thanks so much Tanya for suggesting I check.)  I finished earlier than I expected, so I wandered over to Lamb's Conduit Street to say hello to Nicola.  I'd promised to pop in for a cuppa next time I was in the area, you see.  Little did I know that it was envelope-stuffing-day!  Nicola didn't seem at all surprised to see me, though, and I'd joined half a dozen lovely ladies around a table in the middle of the shop, and started labelling envelopes.  The main sending out of biannuallies is done by a company, but the 4000 international customers are still served by hand - I was stickering surnames 'C' and 'L', and saw a couple of names I recognised (Cate Lombardo, and Claire from The Captive Reader - hello ladies!)  I had a really lovely afternoon, it was great fun, and Nicola very kindly gave me a copy of the Persephone 2013 Diary and Persephone Book 100 - the Persephone Short Stories.  Thrilled doesn't even cover it!

I remember once hearing that Persephone might stop after 100 books - thank goodness they aren't.  I'm really looking forward to the Persephone Lecture in November (are any of you going?) and being in a room of Persephone enthusiasts will be a complete treat.

Oh, final tangent - while in London I had the great joy of having afternoon tea at Miranda's flat - all baked by her, and completely delicious - and got to see Donna, Rachel, and Polly too.  Such fun!  The picture shows Polly, me, Rachel, and Miranda (Donna being behind the camera) - and what's left of the spread!  (Hope it's ok to post this picture, my friends!)  As Rachel wrote on her blog, it was a reminder of how lucky we are to find fun, lovely people with common bookish interests - I always love these gatherings.  If any bloggers or blog-readers are ever heading to Oxford and fancy a natter in a coffee shop, just give me an email!

Hope you're having a great week - my cold has almost gone, and I'm reading several great books, so I'm feeling rather cheery at the moment.  Off to read some more!

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