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Celebrating Virago’s Fiftieth Year

Introducing Virago's Five Gold Reads

Five Gold Reads


Celebrate five decades of Virago Press with our stunning Five Gold Reads collection – one book from each decade of Virago’s publishing history.

Angela Carter’s highly acclaimed polemic enlisting the Marquis de Sade in an argument about women’s sexual freedom: The Sadeian Woman was first published in 1979.

A stunning collection of poems from Grace Nichols, winner of the Queen’s GoldMedal for Poetry 2021The Fat Black Woman’s Poems was first published in 1984.

A wonderfully lush, sensuous and bawdy novel set in the music halls of the late 19th century, Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters was first published in 1998.

A controversial and much needed look at our highly sexualised culture, Living Dolls by Natasha Walter was first published in 2009.

A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dogThe Friend by Sigrid Nunez was first published in 2018.


The Sadeian Woman by Angela Carter

The Sadeian Woman by Angela Carter

With invention and genius, Angela Carter takes on these outrageous figments of his extreme imagination, and transforms them into symbols of our time – the Hollywood sex goddesses, mothers and daughters, pornography, even the sacred shrines of sex and marriage lie devastatingly exposed before our eyes.

Angela Carter delves into the viscera of our distorted sexuality and reveals a dazzling vision of love which admits neither of conqueror nor of conquered.

The Fat Black Women's Poems by Grace Nichols

The Fat Black Woman’s Poems by Grace Nichols

Nichols gives us images that stare us straight in the eye, images of joy, challenge, accusation. Her ‘fat black woman’ is brash; rejoices in herself; poses awkward questions to politicians, rulers, suitors, to a white world that still turns its back.

Grace Nichols writes in a language that is wonderfully vivid yet economical of the pleasures and sadnesses of memory, of loving, of ‘the power to be what I am, a woman, charting my own futures’.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

‘Piercing the shadows of the naked stage was a single shaft of rosy limelight, and in the centre of this was a girl: the most marvellous girl – I knew it at once! – that I had ever seen.’

A saucy, sensuous and multi-layered historical romance set in the ‘roaring’ 1890s, Tipping the Velvet follows the glittering career of Nan King on her journey from Whitstable oyster-girl to music-hall star to cross-dressing rentboy to East End ‘tom’.

Living Dolls by Natasha Walter

Living Dolls by Natasha Walter

I once believed that we only had to put in place the conditions for equality for the remnants of old-fashioned sexism in our culture to wither away. I am ready to admit that I was wrong.’

Empowerment, liberation, choice. Once the watchwords of feminism, these terms have now been co-opted by a society that sells women an airbrushed, highly sexualised and increasingly narrow vision of femininity. Drawing on a wealth of research and personal interviews, LIVING DOLLS is a straight-talking, passionate and important book that makes us look afresh at women and girls, at sexism and femininity – today.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unravelling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.


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We have 100 Five Gold Reads bundles available via the Virago Store. In this bundle you will get a copy of each book, plus an anniversary pin and tote bag (not for purchase anywhere else!). 


Five Gold Reads Bundle