Penguin is to celebrate the centenary of women getting the vote with a new series called Penguin Women Writers.
Curated by Man Booker prize-winning author Penelope Lively and Royal Society of Literature fellow, Kamila Shamsie, the series champions four forgotten classics by female authors which Lively and Shamsie felt "deserve to be better known" in the UK. The series was commissioned by Viking assistant editor Isabel Wall and will feature "striking" cover designs by American artist Martha Rich.
Lively has selected Birds of America by Mary McCarthy, a "crisp and clever" novel about an American teenager who moves to Paris to avoid being drafted in the Vietnam War, and The Lark, an "undiscovered gem" from children’s author E. Nesbit.
Shamsie has chosen a collection of "wickedly funny and provocative" stories from India’s "most controversial feminist writer", Ismat Chughtai, called Lifting the Veil, and Meatless Days which is a "stunning" memoir of female experience in post-colonial Pakistan by Sara Suleri.
Shamsie said: "In the life of every writer, there comes those moments when you’re asked to recommend books that are meaningful or important to you in some way. It’s always a source of great desolation to know that some of those books are out of print or - worse - were never published in the UK to begin with. Having a chance to right that wrong, and bring a couple of writers who I love into the lives of readers who didn’t know them before, was something that was impossible to pass up on."
Lively added: "The proposal to reprint neglected titles by women writers to mark this anniversary was one that I found appealing. Writers can disappear - unread by later generations; certain books can be sidelined, where others by the same writer survive. I hope that this project by Penguin will serve to revive interest in these particular writers."
The series will be published on 1st February 2018.