Thursday, 26 May 2011

Books contd./Persephone meets the Gothic

My spare bedroom has just had a magnificent makeover, thanks to two talented friends, and, as a result, I now have some new bookshelves to add to the overspilling bookcases that grace almost every other room in the house. It was fun deciding which books to display in such uncluttered glory, and I chose the eclectic approach. Thus, my cherished collection of lovely dove grey Persephone books (Dorothy Whipple, Katherine Mansfield, Monica Dickens etc.) is elegantly arranged between the complete set of Lemony Snicket's 'Series of Unfortunate Events' and three of Tom Holland's Gothic/supernatural novels, including The Vampyre, and on the top shelf, A Dance to the Music of Time is happily wedged between Paul Magrs's 'Never the Bride' sequence and Susanna Clarke's 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell'.
I love the books produced by Persephone Press. If I had unlimited resources, including shelf space, I'd buy them all. I used to keep my Persephone Books in the conservatory, under the shelves where I'd placed my collection of green Virago Modern Classics, as seemed fitting, but with the new shelves, I was inspired to move them and let them mingle with the Gothic. I'd love to see Persephone meet the Gothic in real terms--it would be great, for example, to see a Persephone edition of the ghost stories of Cynthia Asquith or Rosemary Timperley, but I have the feeling that isn't going to happen; the supernatural isn't Persephone's bag (although they have published Marghanita Laski's time-slip tale 'The Victorian Chaise Longue'.)
Nevertheless, thank goodness for Persephone and the sterling work of Nicola Beauman in rescuing the writers who have 'fallen through the cracks' and who merit reprinting. The shop in Lambs Conduit Street is a rare haven, and I spent two delightful hours there last night enjoying a 'Possibly Persephone' evening--literary discussion (what book would you like to see reprinted by Persephone?), Madeira, and bread and cheese. Sheer perfection and long may it continue!


  1. Persephone definitely deserve a place of honour! And I'm with you - I love the Gothic, but can't see Persephone incorporating it all that much. As Nicola said at that lovely evening, I like books where something strange is going on, and she doesn't. Except for Victorian Chaise-Longue, as you say! But some of my favourites - Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker; The Love Child by Edith Olivier; Shirley Jackson's novels; Barbara Comyns' novels - are ones which Nicola doesn't like very much.


  2. Hi Sue I'd like to talk to you about your books, as in publishing them :) can you write me at ?