I first discovered Persephone Books when my aunt sent me ‘Someone at a Distance’ by Dorothy Whipple for my birthday one year. This beautiful package arrived with a book with an elegant grey cover and cream pages, and a lovely book mark. I was intrigued. Who on earth was Dorothy Whipple and what was this book all about? I discovered it had been bought and sent from Persephone Books, a very unique book shop in London I had never heard of.
The founder Nicola Beauman had a vision of printing books by women written during the 1930s and 40s that were now out of print. Boy did she do it in style!
The website tell us the following about the founder of this treasure trove for book lovers: “The founder of Persephone Books, Nicola Beauman (née Mann), was born in 1944, brought up in London, and read English at Newnham College, Cambridge. She is the author of A Very Great Profession: The Woman’s Novel 1914-39 (1983), Cynthia Asquith (1987), Morgan: a biography of E.M. Forster (1993) and The Other Elizabeth Taylor (2009). She is married with five children and lives in London. She likes brogues, daffodils, mattress ticking and madeira.”
As for the books themselves – quality is the order of the day. Beautifully written stories by women about relationships, domesticity, the appalling tragedies of war and much much more. I remember my cousin recommending Monica Dickens to me, the great granddaughter of Charles. Her book ‘Mariana’ is available and by all accounts is hilarious. There are also books by men now available and the whole collection is sublime. For a taster I would read their blog recommendations at http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/books-info/blogs/
They also stop for tea every day at 4 pm which I think is most civilized! These books make great presents. If you have read any of them, or have visited the shop, please let me know as I would love to know your thoughts. I hope to visit the shop next time I am in London.