Virago has always been a uniquely collaborative enterprise.
Since the beginning, over forty years ago, when readers sent us letters and postcards about the books, the covers, the titles, alongside ideas for the Virago Modern Classics, our Virago readers – and indeed Virago authors – have never been backward in coming forward.
Rarely has there been such a close and intimate connection between publisher and reader and I am convinced that one of the reasons Virago has flourished is because of that relationship.
Thanks to the variety of ways to communicate now it’s a relationship still very much alive and active. We’re grateful – because Virago is as much about you, our readers, as those of us who publish for you.
We always want to hear from you. Keep talking to us!
Timeline: A History of Virago
Top row (l-r) Ailah Ahmed, Commissioning Editor; Lennie Goodings, Publisher; Donna Coonan, Editorial Director, Virago Modern Classics.
Bottom row (l-r) Sarah Savitt, Deputy Publisher, Virago, Angela Cammarota, Executive Assistant, David Bamford, Assistant Editor.
Virago was an idea of Carmen Callil’s, born out of a particular time, place and politics. Forty years on Virago is the outstanding international publisher of books by women. The cultural, political and economic landscape has changed dramatically in the last four decades, but Virago has remained true to its original aims: to put women centre stage; to explore the untold stories of their lives and histories; to break the silence around many women’s experiences; to publish breathtaking new fiction alongside a rich list of rediscovered classics; and above all to champion women’s talent. Sometimes we publish to entertain, sometimes we publish to give readers the sheer pleasure of beautiful writing, sometimes we publish to change the world.
The name instantly signalled Virago’s attitude. Virago means ‘heroic war-like woman’, or, as the thesaurus has it a particular kind of woman: biddy, bitch, dragon, fire-eater, fury, harpy, harridan, hussy, muckraker, scold, she-devil, siren, spitfire, termagant, tigress, vituperator, vixen, wench. Here was a cheeky upstart, happy to shock and tease. Virago has never seen itself as niche, never a boutique publisher. We might, at times, publish from the margins, but we have never thought of ourselves as marginalized; we have always marched down the high street with the best of them.