Virago Modern Classics Book Club
‘I read my first Virago Modern Classic novel at age eighteen; I read my latest last week. For the thirty-odd years in between, the VMCs have been wowing me, inspiring me, making me laugh, cry, wonder and think. The list contains some of the greatest fiction and non-fiction of the modern age, by authors whose lives were frequently as significant as their writing. Still captivating, still memorable, still utterly essential reading.’
Join our book club and celebrate 40 years of Virago Modern Classics.
From Editorial Director of the Virago Modern Classics, Donna Coonan:
“Forty years ago, the Virago Modern Classics list was created by Carmen Callil, and it isn’t an overstatement to say that it changed literary history. Launching with Antonia White’s lyrical, devastating novel, Frost in May, the list’s aim was, and is, to celebrate women writers, to broaden the sometimes narrow definition of what a ‘classic’ is, and to demonstrate the existence of a female tradition in literature. Published with distinctive green spines, the list attracted an enthusiastic, dedicated following, which continues today.
If women’s stories aren’t published in all their variety, their voices are silenced and only part of human experience – both in the historical and imaginative landscapes – is represented. The Virago Modern Classics redrew the map to expose what had been hidden from view. It provided a counterbalance to the existing male-dominated perspective. Creating a platform that values the female experience as equal to the male is crucial: storytelling is central to what it is to be human, and giving a voice to generations of important but neglected women writers benefits everyone. History is incomplete without them.
In 2018, our ethos hasn’t changed. We are still growing, still rediscovering and publishing books to inspire, delight and challenge. As well as reissuing and revitalising our rich backlist with eye-catching new covers and incisive new introductions, in the last decade we’ve added nearly 170 titles to the list, including the complete fiction of Patricia Highsmith and Mary Renault, and brilliant books by writers including Muriel Spark, Beryl Bainbridge, Angela Thirkell and Rumer Godden, to name but a few. We have also recently extended our range to include a wonderful series of children’s classics – childhood favourites by authors such as Nina Bawden, Joan Aiken, L. M. Montgomery, E. Nesbit, P. L. Travers and Noel Streatfeild.”