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    • ISBN:9780349008639
    • Publication date:03 May 2018
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Writers as Readers

A Celebration of Virago Modern Classics

  • Hardback
  • £14.99

A celebration of the Virago Modern Classics

Margaret Drabble | Beryl Bainbridge | Angela Carter | Maggie O'Farrell | Elizabeth Jane Howard | A. S. Byatt | Penelope Lively | Sarah Waters | Jonathan Coe | Diana Souhami | Jilly Cooper | Elizabeth Bowen | Mark Bostridge | Alexander McCall Smith | Sarah Dunant | Rachel Cooke | Zadie Smith | Anita Desai | Sophie Dahl | Clare Boylan | Paula McLain | Diana Athill | Marina Lewycka | Claire Messud | Michèle Roberts | Simon Russell Beale | Amanda Craig | Hilary Mantel | Elizabeth Taylor | Ali Smith | Linda Grant | Jane Gardam | Julie Burchill | Carmen Callil | Helen Oyeyemi | Marian Keyes | Nora Ephron | Sandi Toksvig | Kate Saunders

Writers as Readers is a celebration of forty years of the Virago Modern Classics list. Started in 1978, Virago Modern Classics is dedicated to the rediscovery and championing of women writers, challenging the often narrow definition of 'classic'.

In this collection, forty of the most significant writers of the past century tell us about one of their favourite writers by introducing books from the Virago Modern Classics collection, offering a glimpse at the treasures that have been published over the past four decades: they may be great works of literature; they may be wonderful period pieces; they may reveal particular aspects of women's lives; they may be classics of comedy, storytelling, diary-writing or autobiography.

Biographical Notes

Since Virago began in 1973, its mission has been to champion women's voices and bring them to the widest possible readership around the world. From fiction and politics to history and classic children's stories, our writers continue to win acclaim, break new ground and enrich the lives of readers.

The Virago Modern Classics list was launched in 1978 with Antonia White's Frost in May, and celebrates its fortieth birthday in 2018 with the publication of Writers as Readers and beautifully designed reissues of books including Frost in May by Antonia White; The Collected Stories of Grace Paley; Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault; The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter; The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann; Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith; The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; Heartburn by Nora Ephron; The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; Memento Mori by Muriel Spark; A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor; Faces in the Water by Janet Frame.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780349008622
  • Publication date: 03 May 2018
  • Page count: 432
  • Imprint: Virago
If you can't think of anything better than reading Angela Carter's writing on reading Charlotte Brontë, this book is for you. It's a complete delight - I couldn't put it down. You can devour it cover-to-cover or dip into it every now and then, when you need some inspiration. Luckily, it has it in abundance — The Pool
Abacus

Impromptu in Moribundia

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton

'I recommend Hamilton at every opportunity, because he was such a wonderful writer and yet is rather under-read today. All his novels are terrific' Sarah Waters'If you were looking to fly from Dickens to Martin Amis with just one overnight stop, then Hamilton is your man' Nick HornbyImpromptu in Moribundia is a satirical fable about one (nameless) man's trespass (through a fantastical machine called the 'Asteradio') into a parallel universe on a far-off planet where the 'miserably dull affairs of England' are mirrored and transformed into an apparent idyll of bourgeois English imagination.Moribundia is the 'physical enactment of the stereotypes and myths of English middle-class culture and consciousness.' Yet the narrator comes to discover that he has stumbled among a people characterised by 'cupidity, ignorance, complacence, meanness, ugliness, short-sightedness, cowardice, credulity, hysteria and, when the occasion called for it . . . cruelty and blood-thirstiness.

Hachette Audio

Gaslight

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton

This classic Victorian thriller was first produced in 1935. Jack Manningham is slowly, deliberately driving his wife, Bella, insane. He has almost succeeded when help arrives in the form of a former detective, Rough, who believes Manningham to be a thief and murderer. Aided by Bella, Rough proves Manningham's true identity and finally Bella achieves a few moments of sweet revenge for the suffering inflicted on her.

Fleet

The Bus on Thursday

Shirley Barrett
Authors:
Shirley Barrett

'Intoxicating' Jeff VanderMeer, author of Annihilation'Barrett's brilliant second novel plummets headlong into a darkly funny tale' Mail on SundayBridget Jones meets Twin Peaks in this black comedy about a woman's retreat to a remote Australian town and the horrors awaiting her.It wasn't just the bad breakup that turned Eleanor Mellett's life upside down. It was the cancer. And all the demons that came with it.One day she felt a bit of a bump when she was scratching her armpit at work. The next thing she knew, her breast was being removed by an inappropriately attractive doctor, and she was subsequently inundated with cupcakes, besieged by judgy support groups, and the ungrateful recipient of hand-knitted sweaters from her mum.Luckily, Eleanor finds that Talbingo, a remote little town, needs a primary-school teacher. Their Miss Barker upped and vanished in the night, despite being the most caring teacher ever, according to everyone. Unfortunately, Talbingo is a bit creepy. It's not only the communion-wine-swigging priest prone to rants about how cancer is caused by demons. Or the unstable, overly sensitive kids, always going on about Miss Barker and her amazing sticker system. It's living alone in a remote cabin, with no phone service or wifi, wondering why there are so many locks on the front door, and who is knocking on it late at night.Riotously funny, deeply unsettling, and surprisingly poignant, Shirley Barrett's The Bus on Thursday is a wicked, weird, wild ride for fans of Maria Semple, Stephen King and Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. And when have those three writers ever appeared in the same sentence?

Little, Brown US

The Traveling Feast

Rick Bass
Authors:
Rick Bass

On the Road meets Tuesdays with Morrie in this pilgrimage by "an American classic" (Newsweek) to thank his most important mentors through memorable meals and conversations"Some years later, George Plimpton offered to punch me in the nose," recounts Rick Bass, remembering fondly a conversation with the famed Paris Review editor in his office, in which Plimpton, who had been slugged by Archie Moore, offered to connect Bass to a "hoary genealogy" that would include Ali and Frazier. Lineage has always been important to Bass. Before the punch-that-could-have-been, there was his failed bid to become Eudora Welty's lawn boy, and his first meal with Jim Harrison, during which he could barely bring himself to speak. That supper would eventually inspire this book, Rick's years-long pilgrimage to thank his heroes, and to pass on their legacy of mentorship to the next generation.The poignancy of this journey of thanksgiving is intensified by the place in life at which Bass finds himself. He is nearing sixty, his daughters are now grown, and his wife of more than two decades, who accompanied him on that long-ago dinner with Jim Harrison, has called an end to their marriage. In the wake of this loss, Bass sets out, accompanied by two young writers, to recapture the fire, the hunger, that has faded from his life.The Traveling Feast is a book about meeting one's debts in two directions--sending gratitude to the old exemplars, and a few contemporaries, from Peter Matthiessen to David Sedaris and John Berger to Lorrie Moore, while paying it forward to the next generation of writers, believing in and supporting them as Bass was by his own heroes. Each chapter in this fruitful journey recalls the meeting, the meal, and the history--the writer of the past and of the now. From the disastrous pecan tart to the illegally transported elk meat to the photo op gone awry are many resonant moments. What emerges is a guide not only to writing well but to living well, to sucking out all the marrow of life, in Thoreau's immortal phrase. The Traveling Feast is a chronicling of the old ways, a cross-continent pilgrimage to show gratitude for a legacy of American literature and the writers who made it.

Virago

Promising Young Women

Caroline O'Donoghue
Authors:
Caroline O'Donoghue
Constable

The Blood

E. S. Thomson
Authors:
E. S. Thomson
Hachette Books

I'll Have What She's Having

Erin Carlson
Authors:
Erin Carlson
Abacus

The Gorse Trilogy

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton

Ernest Ralph Gorse's heartlessness and lack of scruple are matched only by the inventiveness and panache with which he swindles his victims. With great deftness and precision Hamilton exposes how his dupes' own naivete, snobbery or greed make them perfect targets. These three novels are shot through with the brooding menace and sense of bleak inevitability so characteristic of the author. There is also vivid satire and caustic humour. Gorse is thought to be based on the real-life murderer Neville Heath, hanged in 1946.

Abacus

Craven House

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton

'All his novels are terrific' Sarah WatersIn Craven House, among the shifting, uncertain world of the English boarding house, with its sad population of the shabby genteel on the way down - and the eternal optimists who would never get up or on - the young Patrick Hamilton, with loving, horrified fascination, first mapped out the territory that he would make, uniquely, his own. Although many of Hamilton's lifelong interests are here, they are handled with a youthful brio and optimism conspicuously absent from his later work. The inmates of Craven House have their foibles, but most are indulgently treated by an author whose world view has yet to harden from scepticism into cynicism. The generational conflicts of Hamilton's own youth thread throughout the narrative, with hair bobbing and dancing as the battle lines. That perennial of the 1920s bourgeoisie, the 'servant problem', is never far from the surface, and tensions crescendo gradually to a resolution one climactic dinnertime.

Orbit

The Sudden Appearance of Hope

Claire North
Authors:
Claire North

***WINNER OF THE WORLD FANTASY AWARD 2017******CLAIRE NORTH WAS SHORTLISTED FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES / PFD YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD***My name is Hope Arden. I am the girl the world forgets.It started when I was sixteen years old. A father forgetting to drive me to school. A mother setting the table for three, not four. A friend who looks at me and sees a stranger.No matter what I do, the words I say, the crimes I commit - you will never remember who I am.That makes my life tricky. It also makes me dangerous . . .The Sudden Appearance of Hope is the tale of a girl no one remembers, yet her story will stay with you for ever.Praise for Claire North:'North's talent shines out' Sunday Times'Little short of a masterpiece' Independent'Poignant and intensely gripping' Guardian'Well-paced, brilliant and balanced' New York Times'Utterly readable, utterly believable and compelling . . . one of the fiction highlights of the decade' Judy Finnigan, Richard and Judy Book ClubAlso by Claire North:The First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustTouchThe End of the Day84KThe Gameshouse

Abacus

Hangover Square

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton

The seventy-fifth anniversary edition, with a new introduction by Anthony Quinn.'I recommend Hamilton at every opportunity, because he was such a wonderful writer and yet is rather under-read today. All his novels are terrific' Sarah Waters'If you were looking to fly from Dickens to Martin Amis with just one overnight stop, then Hamilton is your man' Nick HornbyLondon, 1939, and in the grimy publands of Earls Court, George Harvey Bone is pursuing a helpless infatuation. Netta is cool, contemptuous and hopelessly desirable to George. George is adrift in a drunken hell, except in his 'dead' moments, when something goes click in his head and he realises, without a doubt, that he must kill her. In the darkly comic Hangover Square Patrick Hamilton brilliantly evokes a seedy, fog-bound world of saloon bars, lodging houses and boozing philosophers, immortalising the slang and conversational tone of a whole generation and capturing the premonitions of doom that pervaded London life in the months before the war.

Virago

Don't Look Now And Other Stories

Daphne Du Maurier
Authors:
Daphne Du Maurier

John and Laura have come to Venice to try and escape the pain of their young daughter's death. But when they encounter two old women who claim to have second sight, they find that instead of laying their ghosts to rest they become caught up in a train of increasingly strange and violent events.The four other haunting, evocative stories in this volume also explore deep fears and longings, secrets and desires: a lonely teacher who investigates a mysterious American couple, a young woman confronting her father's past, a party of pilgrims who meet disaster in Jerusalem and a scientist who harnesses the power of the mind to chilling effect.

Virago

The Praise Singer

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault
Hachette Audio

Old Filth

Jane Gardam
Authors:
Jane Gardam
Virago

Mossy Trotter

Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Ross
Contributors:
Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Ross

Mossy Trotter is the only book for children by Elizabeth Taylor, who is increasingly recognised as one of the best writers of the twentieth century.'We - that is, Herbert and I - want you, Mossy, to be our page-boy,' Miss Silkin said, staring hard at Mossy again, as if she were trying to imagine him dressed up, and with his hair combed.Mossy went very red, and nearly choked on a piece of cake, and Selwyn laughed, and went on laughing, as if he had just heard the funniest joke of all his life. They both knew what being a page-boy meant. One of the boys at school - one of the very youngest ones - had had to be one, wearing velvet trousers and a frilled blouse.'When Mossy moves to the country, life is full of delights - trees to climb, woods to explore and, best of all, the marvellous dump to rummage through. But every now and then his happiness is disturbed - chiefly by his mother's meddling friend, Miss Silkin. And a dreaded event casts a shadow over even the sunniest of days - being a page-boy at her wedding. In her only children's book, Elizabeth Taylor perfectly captures the temptations, confusion and terrors of a mischievous boy, and just how illogical, frustrating and inconsistent adults are!

Virago

On Writers and Writing

Margaret Atwood
Authors:
Margaret Atwood
Hachette Audio

Tipping The Velvet

Sarah Waters
Authors:
Sarah Waters

Piercing the shadows of the naked stage was a single shaft of rosy limelight, and in the centre of this was a girl: the most marvellous girl - I knew it at once! - that I had ever seen. A saucy, sensuous and multi-layered historical romance, Tipping the Velvet follows the glittering career of Nan King - oyster girl turned music-hall star turned rent boy turned East End 'tom'.

Virago

The Little Stranger

Sarah Waters
Authors:
Sarah Waters

Now a major motion picture starring Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter and Charlotte Rampling, and directed by Lenny Abrahamson.Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize'Sarah Waters's masterly novel is . . . gripping, confident, unnerving and supremely entertaining' Hilary MantelIn a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, its owners - mother, son and daughter - struggling to keep pace. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.

Virago

A View Of The Harbour

Elizabeth Taylor
Authors:
Elizabeth Taylor

She let herself out of the large, untidy house and into her own beautiful, hyacinth-scented one. She sat down in the bay-window of her bedroom and combed her hair before the mirror. She took it all down and built it up again, but there was no one to see what she had done.*In the faded coastal village of Newby, everyone looks out for - and in on - each other, and beneath the deceptively sleepy exterior, passions run high. Beautiful divorcee Tory is painfully involved with her neighbour, Robert, while his wife Beth, Tory's best friend, is consumed by the worlds she creates in her novels, oblivious to the relationship developing next door. Their daughter Prudence is aware, however, and is appalled by the treachery she observes. Mrs Bracey, an invalid whose grasp on life is slipping, forever peers from her window, constantly prodding her daughters for news of the outside world. And Lily Wilson, a lonely young widow, is frightened of her own home. Into their lives steps Bertram, a retired naval officer with the unfortunate capacity to inflict lasting damage while trying to do good.*'Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one's own experience' - Elizabeth Bowen 'Always intelligent, often subversive and never dull, Elizabeth Taylor is the thinking person's dangerous housewife. Her sophisticated prose combines elegance, icy wit and freshness in a stimulating cocktail' - Valerie Martin'A magnificent and underrated mid-20th-century writer, the missing link between Jane Austen and John Updike' - David Baddiel, Independent

Virago

The Birds And Other Stories

Daphne Du Maurier
Authors:
Daphne Du Maurier

'How long he fought with them in the darkness he could not tell, but at last the beating of the wings about him lessened and then withdrew . . . 'A classic of alienation and horror, 'The Birds' was immortalised by Hitchcock in his celebrated film. The five other chilling stories in this collection echo a sense of dislocation and mock man's sense of dominance over the natural world. The mountain paradise of 'Monte Verità' promises immortality, but at a terrible price; a neglected wife haunts her husband in the form of an apple tree; a professional photographer steps out from behind the camera and into his subject's life; a date with a cinema usherette leads to a walk in the cemetery; and a jealous father finds a remedy when three's a crowd . . .