Tea or Books? #7: Persephone vs. Virago & To The Lighthouse vs. A Room of One’s Own


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Rachel and I are pitting our favourite publishers against each other in this (belated!) episode – Persephone vs Virago Modern Classics. We definitely want to keep both of them, of course, but had fun talking about our faves and a few not-so-faves. And then things get Woolfian – To The Lighthouse vs A Room of One’s Own, where we try to decide whether we prefer Virginia Woolf’s fiction or non-fiction. Things get heated, y’all. (And my mic is a little fuzzy and wibbly. I need to work on that.)

This took ages to post because I’ve been so busy, so references to books to read for The 1924 Club are sadly no longer apt. Nor are my protestations of being in my 20s…

As usual, here are a list of the books we discuss. It was a LOT this week. You can listen to the podcast up above, or via iTunes, or through whichever podcast app you use (I love Podcast Addict, btw).

Mark Only by T.F. Powys
The Chateau by William Maxwell
The Element of Lavishness by William Maxwell and Sylvia Townsend Warner
What There Is To Say We Have Said by William Maxwell and Eudora Welty
The Folded Leaf by William Maxwell
My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin
My Career Goes Bung by Miles Franklin
The Squire by Enid Bagnold
The Loved and Envied by Enid Bagnold
The Happy Foreigner by Enid Bagnold
Young Entry by Molly Keane
Tea and Tranquilisers by Diane Harpwood
It’s Hard to be Hip Over Thirty by Judith Viorst
The Rector’s Daughter by F.M. Mayor
The Home-maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
The Brimming Cup by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
The Vicar’s Daughter by E.H. Young
The Clergyman’s Daughter by George Orwell
Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
The Love-Child by Edith Olivier
Elizabeth von Arnim
Elizabeth Taylor
Barbara Pym
Christopher and Columbus by Elizabeth von Arnim
One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes
No Surrender by Constance Maud
London War Notes by Mollie Panter-Downes
Family Roundabout by Richmal Crompton
Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge
Consequences by E.M. Delafield
Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple
Fidelity by Susan Glaspell
The Runaway by Elizabeth Anna Hart
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
William: an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Sylvia Plath
Bloomsbury’s Outsider by Sarah Knights
Enid Blyton
Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Guard Your Daughters by Diana Tutton

6 thoughts on “Tea or Books? #7: Persephone vs. Virago & To The Lighthouse vs. A Room of One’s Own

  • November 17, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Gosh, My Brilliant Career and My Career Goes Bung. Haven’t read them – or even thought about them – for years, but remember thoroughly enjoying them … perhaps time to track them down again …

    • November 18, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      I’ve got them both on my shelves too, so it will be interesting to see what I think of them. Do report back if you re-read!

  • November 17, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Fascinating stuff! Although I tend to agree that Virago do sometimes choose for political reasons, I do find that Persephone can be a little narrower in their choices and that makes their list a little samey at times. I like it when they stretch themselves a little more and publish less obvious works like “Into the Whirlwind”. But there’s room for both publishers!

    • November 18, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      I think that might be true for ‘core’ Persephone books, though outliers cover a wide range. I guess it works both ways – it makes them more dependable, but less diverse.

  • November 18, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Virago were bold and original when they started.
    I agree Persephone play it too safe.Times have changed.


    • November 18, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Virago certainly set the stage for a lot that came after. Just a shame they abandoned that beautiful series look.


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