Lennie Goodings signs deal for The Idealistic Publisher

Lennie Goodings signs deal for The Idealistic Publisher

Former Virago Press publisher Lennie Goodings is to write The Idealistic Publisher, a book about ideas, literature, feminism and business, for Oxford University Press (OUP).

According to the publisher, the book will be about "idealistic publishing: about the source of idealism, about the fashions that shape it, about the capitalist set-up and needs that idealism has to negotiate, about championing quality books and writing and about how it feels to be part of a beacon for change". The title will be "particular to Virago" but will also "cast light on any small and passionate enterprise".

A spokesperson for OUP said: "Virago began with a mission to change the world: almost four decades, 10 offices and seven changes of ownership later, and now an imprint within a large publisher, it remains true to that dream".

Last year, after 20 years as publisher at Virago, Goodings stepped down from the role and took on a new position as Virago chair.

Jacqueline Norton, senior commissioning editor of literature at Oxford University Press, commissioned Goodings to write the title and signed world rights, excluding Canada. It will be published as a hardback in 2019, and will then become a paperback as part of the OUP Literary Agenda Series which is overseen by Professor Philip Davis, of the Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society at the University of Liverpool. 

Goodings said Norton was a "gentle but persistent pursuer" and evenutally "won [her] over" and convinced her to write the title, although she feels challenged by the idea of being a writer - and not the editor - of a book.

She added: "I have been with Virago over years of such different political times and I am excited to write about that experience".

Norton, meanwhile, said that Goodings was an "inspiring figure".

"She knows better than anyone what it is to sustain decades of commitment to feminist writing in the real world of commercial publishing and brings the highs and lows of her ongoing fascinating career to life brilliantly", Norton said.

Goodings began at Virago when it was independent and stayed through all of its subsequent incarnations: when it was part of Chatto, Virago, Bodley Head and Cape (CVBC) and briefly owned by Random House. She was one of the management buyout team with Rothschild Venture and has been publisher since the board sold the company to Little, Brown, where Virago has been an imprint since 1995. Her authors include, among others, Margaret Atwood, Sarah Dunant, Lyndall Gordon, Linda Grant, Marilynne Robinson, Rachel Seiffert, Sandi Toksvig, Natasha Walter, Sarah Waters and Naomi Wolf.