Kirsty Wark reunites those involved in the founding and early years of the feminist publisher Virago.
Kirsty Wark reunites those involved in the founding and early years of the feminist publishing company Virago.
In 1973, a group of women got together to form Virago Press. They wanted a publisher that would publish books for “52 per cent of the population”.
The company’s first book was an oral history of an isolated rural East Anglian village. Mary Chamberlain’s Fenwomen was denounced by the News of the World for its alleged portrayal of the sex and sleaze of village life.
Virago went on to publish many influential authors including Maya Angelou, Angela Carter, Sheila Rowbotham, Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters.
It also became known for republishing lost works from women authors of the past under the banner of Virago Modern Classics.
Taking part are Ursula Owen, one of the original founders; Alexandra Pringle, who became Virago's Editorial Director; Lennie Goodings, former publicist, now current chair of Virago; Mary Chamberlain who was the company's first published author with the oral history Fenwomen; and the biographer and critic Hermione Lee who contributed to numerous Virago editions over the years.
Producer: Howard Shannon
Series Producer: David Prest
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4