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A Bite of the Apple

A Life with Books, Writers and Virago

Lennie Goodings (Publisher, Publisher, Virago Press)



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Oxford University Press
12 March 2020
Biography; Autobiography: literary; Memoirs; Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers; Feminism & feminist theory; Publishing industry
'The moment I got my job at Virago in 1978 I knew it would be a long time before I would leave. I certainly wouldn't have had the brazen hope then-only twenty-five and very recently new to Britain-that I would ever become the Publisher, but I did know that I had found my home: where books, ideas, politics, imagination, feminism, and business was the air we breathed . . .' A Bite of the Apple is part-memoir, part history of Virago, and part thoughts on over forty years of feminist publishing. This is the story of how the authors and staff who, driven by passion, conviction and excitement, have made Virago Press one of the most important and influential English-language publishers in the world. Lennie Goodings has been with the iconic press founded by Carmen Callil almost since the start. First a publicist and then for over twenty years, publisher and editor, she has worked with extraordinary authors: Margaret Atwood, Marilynne Robinson, Sarah Waters, Linda Grant, Natasha Walter, Naomi Wolf and Maya Angelou among many others. Virago has been a life-changer for Lennie Goodings - but certainly not only for her. Following the chronology of the press and the enormous breadth of the Virago titles published over these years, she sets her story in the context of feminism, and segues into thoughts on editing, post-feminism, reading, breaking boundaries, and the Virago Modern Classics. Virago lives within the tension between idealism and pragmatism; between sisterhood and celebrity; between watching feminism wax and wane at the same time as knowing so many of the battles are still to be won. This book is about how it felt to be there. A Bite of the Apple is a celebration of writing, of publishing, and of reading.
By:   Lennie Goodings (Publisher Publisher Virago Press)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 200mm,  Width: 134mm,  Spine: 30mm
Weight:   376g
ISBN:   9780198828754
ISBN 10:   0198828756
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   12 March 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Preface Part One: A New Kind of Being 1: First Bites: The early years 2: Setting the world on fire 3: The acceptable face of feminism? Why not! Part Two: The Books 4: The Virago Modern Classics 5: Fuck the Patriarchy!: Nonfiction 6: What Stories Can Do: Fiction Part Three: The Politics: office and otherwise 7: The Dramas 8: Disrupting the old stories 9: Beyond Borders 10: Up, Down and Up Again Part Four: The Power to Publish is a Wonderful Thing 11: The Intimacy of Editing 12: Does any other successful publisher get asked constantly if they are still necessary? 13: Why can't a man read like a woman? 14: Giving and taking courage

Lennie Goodings is Chair of the UK publishing house Virago Press. Her authors include, amongst many others, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou, Sarah Waters, Natasha Walter, Sandi Toksvig and Marilynne Robinson. Goodings was part of Virago's management buy-out team of five who created a newly independent Virago in 1987 and became the Publishing Director in 1992. In 1995 Virago was sold to Little, Brown where Goodings remained the Publisher and Editorial Director. She stepped back from that position in 2017 and became Virago Chair, still editing and commissioning her authors. Lennie Goodings won the Bookseller's Industry Award: Editor and Imprint of the Year in 2010 and A Lifetime's Achievement at WOW, London's Southbank Women of the World festival in 2018. Born in Canada, she came to London in her early twenties and has remained there since. She is married with two children. Working with authors and books is her passion.

Reviews for A Bite of the Apple: A Life with Books, Writers and Virago

Enthralling ...the best book on publishing... since Diana Athill's Stet. A fascinating, charming and sometimes fierce, but always beguiling memoir... A celebration of the power of women supporting women. * Kate Mosse * Behind every great book there is a great editor. And behind every feminist press, a remarkable set of women. Lennie Goodings is one of both. * Sarah Dunant * Lively, frank, fascinating and above all, inspiring. A celebration of boldness: of wanting something better and making change happen. * Sarah Waters * An indispensable piece of feminist history; nothing less than the exciting story of how women found their voice and made society listen. I enjoyed it hugely. * Caroline Criado Perez * There is so very much to enjoy -and learn about- in this engaging book. We meet a young Lennie from Canada, in love with books, who lands a job at Virago and over the years survives and steers many of its changes to ensure its safety and vibrancy. Along the way, we track the changes in the publishing industry, in feminist thought and practice, and encounter the magnificence of Virago authors. A wonderful memoir and such a great read. * Susie Orbach * All an apple should be: crisp, tart but sweet, steeped in mysterious history and tangled symbolism, and not a bad missile when it comes to alleyway combat. Oh, and delicious! * Margaret Atwood, on Twitter *

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