#PersephoneReadathon: Day One

I’ve only just spotted that Jessie at Dwelling in Possibility is running an eleven-day Persephone Readathon. What a good idea! You can read more here, and by exploring a few of Jessie’s most recent posts, but I definitely want to jump on board. While I’m still deciding which of my unread Persephones to pick up (and which of those tick years in A Century of Books, of course), I thought I’d join in with the challenge for Day One: First Impressions Challenge: Tell us how you first discovered Persephone Books and/or the first Persephone book you read.

Well, there are a couple of potential answers to that – because I read a Persephone or two in non-Persephone covers before I’d ever heard of them. But my route to Persephone was through Richmal Crompton – I’d picked up Family Roundabout (I think) in Hay-on-Wye, intrigued because I’d loved her William stories throughout my childhood. That set me off on a little RC binge, for any of the books I could find easily – Frost at MorningWeatherley Parade. And so I was rather intrigued when I saw a copy of Family Roundabout as part of a display in Pershore library, the little library local to be in Worcestershire. Yes, that copy was in Persephone clothing.

This was in late 2003, I think. I went to Amazon and saw a review of it – back in the days when Amazon would tell you email addresses of reviewers. I emailed the reviewer to say how much I’d like the novel too – and that reviewer happened to be Lyn, of I Prefer Reading. She told me all about Persephone Books, and invited me to join an online book group discussing them – from which I have never looked back.

So, the first Persephone book I read in its Persephone edition was either Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd or Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson – they were both books I found in the library (and I should really check my notebooks to see which I read first). They’re also both brilliant.

To date, I’ve read 56 Persephone books. Which, wonderfully, leaves almost seventy still to read – plenty of happy years of reading ahead of me!

Do join in with the Persephone Readathon if you can, and head over to Jessie’s blog to find out more.

13 thoughts on “#PersephoneReadathon: Day One

  • February 1, 2018 at 9:16 pm
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    I wish my reading was more organised nowadays, because then I’d join in with this- but it isn’t, so that’s that! I also wish I could remember where I stumbled across Persephone – probably on someone’s blog (it could even have been yours!) I know that I read a *lot* of them from the library before I started my own blog and I can’t remember which was first but I’m pretty sure Miss Pettigrew was an early one, and it’s definitely a great favourite still (if not my actual favourite Persephone!) That was a bit rambly, wasn’t it? Sorry…

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  • February 1, 2018 at 9:18 pm
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    I learned about Persephone Press years ago when Nicola Beauman was one of the speakers at the Charleston Summer School. Since then, I have been to the Persephone bookshop in Lamb’s Conduit Street a few times and during another Charleston Summer School I stopped in at a book signing in Lewes, when she signed her book, A Very Great Profession: The Woman’s Novel 1914-1939. So I have read many Persephone books through the years as well as Nicola’s biography of Morgan Forster, who is her literary standard,

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  • February 1, 2018 at 9:49 pm
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    I think my first Persephone was The Making of a Marchioness a few years ago. In any case, I’m hooked.

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  • February 1, 2018 at 9:57 pm
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    I’m pretty sure it was either you or Rachel who first pointed me in the direction of Persephone Books, so thank you for that. My first was Miss Buncle’s Book — such a delight. I try to stop by the shop whenever I’m in London to renew my stock. It’s such a lovely shop too!

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  • February 1, 2018 at 11:10 pm
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    I love that your Persephone obsession kicked off from an email exchange via. an Amazon review! Family Roundabout and Miss Ranskill Comes Home are actually two of my latest acquisitions, and I have a feeling Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is one of the first Persephone reads for a lot of us.

    Fifty-six is impressive! I’m interested to see which of the remaining seventy-ish books you pick up next!

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  • February 2, 2018 at 5:54 am
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    A Persephone readathon! How exciting.

    My awakening to Persephone is very easy to date. I learned about Persephone through your book blog (back when I was merely a blog-less stalker in late 2008) and by the time I started my blog in January 2010 was ready to start reading: I started the blog on January 17th and my January 19th library post documents me bringing home my first two Persephones: Mariana (which I loved) and The Making of a Marchioness (which I loathed). I’ve read 42 of them now and have had mixed results but the ones I love I ADORE and they have my loyalty for life for reprinting London War Notes and Earth and High Heaven.

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  • February 2, 2018 at 10:52 am
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    My love of Persephone is one of many things that was born in the LibraryThing Virago Modern Classics Group. I don’t know who mentioned what books, but I found a copy of ‘Little Boy Lost’ by Marghanita Laski in the library, then I found a copy of ‘Miss Pettigrew’, and after that I had to start collecting.

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  • February 2, 2018 at 12:17 pm
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    I think the first Persephone I read was Mollie Panter-Downes’ Good Evening, Mrs Craven (it was certainly the first one I blogged about) and I’m not sure who introduced me to Persephone Books – either you, or Lynne At Dove Grey Reader I think, or possibly both! And I’m still not sure how I missed them before that – too stuck on old Viragos perhaps!

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  • February 2, 2018 at 9:20 pm
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    I first heard of persephone from Rachel at Booksnob. When I realised how close the shop was to my office, I went over there and bought three (discount for three titles). My first read was the Making of a Marchioness, and I loved it. One book I found almost scary – the Whipple book They were Sisters. The depiction of a manipulative, abusive husband was horribly true to life. I put the book down and still can’t finish it. Otherwise, happy reading, especially Marghanita Laski (read for Tea or Books?).

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  • February 2, 2018 at 9:46 pm
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    You know Simon, you could write one of those books about books! I really enjoyed reading about your winding journey to Persephone books. I am also pretty sure I first heard about Persephone from either your blog or from Thomas @ Hogglestock.

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  • February 2, 2018 at 10:47 pm
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    The first Persephone I read was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. I ordered five or six – six, I think – because there was a special rate for that quantity somehow, and I asked them to be shipped to a friend living in England, and asked her to forward the packet onto me in Canada (to avoid the fees I would have had to pay if they had come direct from the press), leaving her one of the books for her trouble. I would have been borrowing the funds from my grocery budget, you see, and shouldn’t have been buying books at all, but how I coveted them! I wasn’t following your blog, but saw Simon’s notice about the RAL. My stacks for February are pretty solidly packed already, but I will enjoy following along with the events all the same!

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  • February 4, 2018 at 1:19 am
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    Can’t believe it’s 15 years since we met, Simon! My introduction to Persephone was a result of trying to find the Virago website. There wasn’t a Virago website then (probably 2000) but I did find Persephone. They’d only published a handful of books then but I loved the look of them & ordered William, Good evening, Mrs Craven & Julian Grenfell. Once I read those, I ordered three more & then, before I knew it, I had a standing order & now I have the complete set. I’ve read most of them (about a dozen still on the tbr shelves) & I can honestly say that Persephone changed my reading life. I was so excited to find these wonderful writers & books I had read about in Nicola’s A Very Great Profession & suddenly they were available & in such gorgeous editions. Here’s to another 15 years of bookish discussion, Simon!

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  • February 6, 2018 at 9:39 pm
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    I too read a couple of Persephone books in non-Persephone covers, but that’s because I’m a retired kecturer in Eng.Lit. here in South Africa, where Persephone books are quite unknown. They are: The Diary of a Provincial Lady, Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary, Miss Buncle’s Book, & The Journals of Katherine Mansfield, which I
    read in French years ago while commuting to and from the Gare St Lazare & Versailles, where I was stsying while attending some lectures at the Sorbonne. Ironically, my husband & I spent two year-long sabbatical leaves in Mecklenburgh Square, where Virginia Woolf once lived, just around the corner from Lamb’s Conduit Street. But there were no Persephone Books in the 80’s, alas!

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