Persephone celebrates 100th title

Persephone celebrates 100th title

Independent publisher Persephone Books, specialising in reprinting forgotten 20th-century classics, will be publishing its 99th and 100th titles this autumn, and marking the milestone with a tour of independent bookshops.

The 100th title will be The Persephone Book of Short Stories (22nd October, £12, pb and e-book), a collection of 30 stories by different female writers, first published between 1909 and 1986. The stories include 10 written by authors already published by Persephone, such as Diana Athill and Frances Towers; 10 stories that have appeared in the Persephone Biannually magazine, by authors including Edith Wharton, Phyllis Bentley and Penelope Mortimer; and 10 that are new to Persephone, including shorts by Dorothy Parker and Penelope Fitzgerald. The book will have a 1909 endpaper at the front and a 1980s Collier Campbell endpaper at the back.

Its 99th title will be Patience by John Coates (£12, 22nd October), first published in the US in 1954, with the subtitle: “The Story of a Proper Girl Improperly in Love”.

Persephone Books founder Nicola Beauman said the publisher intended to continue in the same vein for its next 100 titles, publishing books with its distinct grey uniform jacket look with unique endpapers. She said: “We’re lucky with our dedicated readership, that we keep going. But then we are very, very small compared to other publishers—in a way, I’m not looking to get any bigger.” 

On the growing trend by publishers to focus on creating beautiful physical books, to preserve the market for print as the shift to digital grows, Beauman said: “I’m not surprised if other publishers are doing it because I think it’s a wonderful way of focusing on the text and individual book.”

To mark the 100th book milestone, Beauman is hiring a 1957 Morris Traveller and visiting bookshops and arts associations in the Cotswolds and Herefordshire for a week.

Beauman has also collaborated with ceramicist Emma Bridgewater to create a commemorative jug and bowl, featuring pomegranates and an inscription which references the 100th book.