I was first introduced to Virago Modern Classics back in the 1980’s. There seemed to be displays of them in bookshops at the time, and I am quite a sucker for a nice display. My sister was reading the Women’s Press books at the time, but they didn’t really appeal to me in the same way. I remember reading some Rebecca West, and Miles Franklin books as well as other well-known Virago authors. And although I became very fond of Virago books and Virago authors – I didn’t quite succumb to a Virago obsession back then. I did own quite a number of lovely green spines, however in 1993 I moved to a very small flat – where I lived for ten years. I had two bookcases in my flat – which were over filled the whole time I lived there – but it meant that during those years I did have to be very ruthless about which books I kept. So I got rid of some of those old green Virago books and had no idea that I would curse my book culling in the future (some books stayed living with my parents –otherwise they may have had the same fate). So then fast forward … a few years : ) and I was encouraged to join the Libraything Virago Group – a message board on Libraything for lovers of Virago books. It’s a wonderful online community and has fully encouraged me in an old long buried interest. I suppose that over the last few years, I have gradually begun to read more and more – older books – twentieth century women writers, a fairly broad category, are among my favourite type of writers and have been for many years, but I have found myself reading more and more of them, and far fewer newer books. Therefore the books published by Virago Modern Classics fit perfectly with my idea of what makes a good read.
The Virago Modern Classic green spines may have disappeared from new bookshop shelves – but they can be found in huge numbers in second hand bookshops – and via the wonderful world of the online bookshop. Wonderful for obsessive collectors because there are certainly a lot of them to collect and it is so lovely to have something to collect now isn’t it? Virago of course still does publish their modern classics – as well as other new authors. I have to admit to not really liking the new cover art quite as much. The new Virago Modern Classic editions are pretty, bright and breezy and very attractive, I have a few I think are really very nice indeed, however they sometimes look a bit – dare I suggest frothy and frivolous? which don’t always suit the contents. I think the design of the original VMC green spines from the 1980’s were really inspired, and it’s no wonder that so many of us are s till seeking them out and snapping them up whenever we can.
Do you like Virago? Is it just me or is there something even in the feel of a Virago book? Do you have a favourite publisher?
I will be blogging about more of my favourite books in the next few weeks.