The first Virago board meeting is held on 21 June with directors Carmen Callil, Rosie Boycott and Marsha Rowe. Rosie and Marsha had started Spare Rib magazine and Carmen’s publicity company, Carmen Callil Ltd, had worked on its launch in 1972. Carmen’s idea for a publishing imprint had initially been registered as Spare Rib Books.
Virago (working out of Carmen’s house in Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London) is to be ‘the first mass-market publisher for 52 per cent of the population – women. An exciting new imprint for both sexes in a changing world.’ Virago’s first book Fenwomen by Mary Chamberlain is published in association with Quartet Books.
Rosie and Marsha resign in 1974; Ursula Owen, who became involved in 1973, becomes a director in 1974. Harriet Spicer, who was working at Carmen Callil Ltd, takes up work for Virago. The following year Virago becomes self-financing and independent with capital of just £1,500 and a guaranteed overdraft of £25,000 and a loan of…
On page two of every book was printed: Virago is a feminist publishing company: ‘It is only when women start to organise in large numbers that we become a political force, and begin to move towards the possiblity of a truly democratic society in which every human being can be brave, responsible, thinking and diligent…
Inspired by Sheila Rowbotham’s Hidden from History, Virago begins the Virago Reprint library. First book from the new, fully independent Virago: Life As We Have Known It by Co-operative Working Women. Virago moves to fourth floor, 5 Wardour Street, Soho, London.
The Virago Modern Classics launch with Frost in May by Antonia White, leading to a list that becomes a Virago hallmark, dedicated to the rediscovery and celebration of women writers, challenging the narrow definition of Classic. View the full list of Virago Modern Classics here.
Published with new introductions by some of today’s best writers, the list encompasses such diverse writers as George Eliot, Grace Paley, Elizabeth von Arnim, Pat Barker, Edith Wharton, Mae West, Angela Carter, Willa Cather and Molly Keane.
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain is rediscovered and published. It later became a TV drama and is now a set text throughout UK.
Angela Carter’s first non-fiction book, The Sadeian Woman, is published. Five of her novels are also published as Virago Modern Classics. She finished her Book of Fairy Tales for Virago just before her death in 1992.