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

ISBN : 9780198828747

Lennie Goodings
320 Pages
129 x196 mm
Pub date
Aug 2022
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'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.


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

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