‘No novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this’ TONI MORRISON
‘Corregidora is the most brutally honest and painful revelation of what has occurred, and is occurring, in the souls of Black men and women’ JAMES BALDWIN
Upon publication in 1975, Corregidora was hailed as a masterpiece, winning acclaim from writers including James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and John Updike. Exploring themes such as race, sexuality and the long repercussions of slavery, this powerful novel paved the way for Beloved and The Colour Purple. Now, this lost classic is published for a new generation of readers.
Blues singer Ursa is consumed by her hatred of Corregidora, the nineteenth-century slave master who fathered both her mother and grandmother. Charged with ‘making generations’ to bear witness to the abuse embodied in the family name, Ursa Corregidora finds herself unable to keep alive this legacy when she is made sterile in a violent fight with her husband. Haunted by the ghosts of a Brazilian plantation, pained by a present of lovelessness and despair, Ursa slowly and firmly strikes her own terms with womanhood.
AS HEARD ON THE BACKLISTED PODCAST
‘A literary giant, and one of my absolute favourite writers’ TAYARI JONES, author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE
Also new to the VMC list: Eva’s Man and The Healing by Gayl Jones.
‘An American writer with a powerful sense of vital inheritance, of history in the blood’ JOHN UPDIKE
‘Gayl Jones’s first novel, Corregidora (1975), was both shocking and ground-breaking in its probing of the psychological legacy of slavery and sexual ownership through the life of a Kentucky blues singer … it predated Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, revealing an unfinished emancipation and the power of historical memory to shape lives. It also marked a shift in African-American literature that made women, and relationships between black people, central’ MAYA JAGGI, Guardian
‘Corregidora‘s survey of trauma and overcoming has become even better and more relevant with the passage of time. It remains an indispensable point of entry into the tradition of African American writing that Gayl Jones reshaped and enriched’ PAUL GILROY
From the author of Ballet Shoes
In this captivating collection of festive stories, there are auditions on stage and antics on ice, trips to the pantomime, holiday adventures, and laughter shared with family and friends. Charming, heartwarming and funny, this exciting new collection will bring joy to readers of all ages.
Originally written for annuals, magazines and the radio from the 1940s-60s, these stories by this much-loved author have never been collected before and will be a welcome discovery to all Streatfeild’s admirers.
The Bells Keep Twelfth Night
The Moss Rose
Christmas at Collers
The Pantomime Goose
Skating to the Stars
So your brother’s a world-famous violinist? That’s amazing! Or is it?
The Forums are a musical family, and one child, Sebastian, shines out as a prodigy. He is a brilliant violinist and when his talent is recognised, he is wanted the world over. Myra, Wolfgang (named after Mozart) and Ettie thought it was wonderful at first, but after four years of touring the world with their brilliant brother they’ve changed their minds. Now, what they long for, is a home of their own, not a hotel in Vienna or Venice or Moscow.
But to their mother and father, a life of travel is exciting – all any child could want. How can the children make the grown-ups see sense?
Myra makes a plan – ‘Operation Home’ – and is determined to make it succeed.
When their father is injured in an accident, life changes for the Johnstone family. Unable to afford their home, they have to move to a small London flat. Carol can no longer go to ballet school and Tim is heartbroken as he must leave his beloved dog, Jelly, behind.
Then, it seems, their wishes are granted: in an extraordinary twist of fate, Tim inherits a dilapidated country house, Caldicott Place, where the family – including Jelly – can live together. But the house is badly in need of repair and they have no money, so a solution is found – the family start to look after wealthy children in the school holidays. Although they dread the prospect of sharing their newly found home with rich spoiled children, perhaps friendships can be found in the unlikeliest places.
‘It was [Seghers] who taught my generation and anyone who had an ear to listen after that not-to-be-forgotten war to distinguish right from wrong. The Seventh Cross shaped me; it sharpened my vision’ GUNTER GRASS
‘A masterpiece. Written in the midst of terror, but with such clarity, such acuity; Seghers is a writer of rare insight’ RACHEL SEIFFERT author of A Boy in Winter
Seven prisoners escape from Westhofen concentration camp. Seven crosses are erected in the grounds and the commandant vows to capture the fugitives within a week. Six men are caught quickly, but George Heisler slips through his pursuers’ fingers. It becomes a matter of pride to track him down, at whatever cost.
Who can George trust? Who will betray him? The years of fear have changed those he knew best: his brother is now an SS officer; his lover turns him away. Hunted, injured and desperate, time is running out for George, and whoever is caught aiding in his escape will pay with their life.
The Seventh Cross is one of the most powerful and influential novels of the twentieth century, a tense thriller that helped to alert the world to the grim realities of Nazi Germany.
‘The Seventh Cross is not only an important novel, but an important historical document. This new, unabridged translation is a genuine publishing event’ JOSEPH KANON, author of The Good German and Leaving Berlin
‘A fascinating insight into life in pre-war Nazi Germany just as the horrors of the Nazi regime were beginning to unfold. This is an important novel, as much for its picture of German society as for its insight into the psyche of ordinary people confronting their personal fears and mixed loyalties’ SIMON MAWER, author of The Glass Room
In The Seventh Cross, Seghers’s aim was to write, ‘A tale that makes it possible to get to know the many layers of fascist Germany through the fortunes of a single man.’ She had four copies of the manuscript: one was destroyed in an air raid; a friend lost the second copy while fleeing the Nazis; another was found by the Gestapo; only the fourth copy survived, which, fortunately, she sent to her publisher in America just before she escaped Nazi-occupied France. Published in 1942, The Seventh Cross was an immediate bestseller and was the basis for an MGM film starring Spencer Tracy in 1944. It has been translated into more than 40 languages.
Margot Bettauer Dembo’s expert new translation makes the complete text of this great political novel available in English for the first time.
‘Spellbinding . . . Probably her best fiction’ – Sunday Times
The soldier returns from the front to the three women who love him. His wife, Kitty, with her cold, moonlight beauty, and his devoted cousin Jenny wait in their exquisite home on the crest of the Harrow-weald. Margaret Allington, his first and long-forgotten love, is nearby in the dreary suburb of Wealdstone. But the soldier is shell-shocked and can only remember the Margaret he loved fifteen years before, when he was a young man and she an inn-keeper’s daughter. His cousin he remembers only as a childhood playmate; his wife he remembers not at all. The women have a choice – to leave him where he wishes to be, or to ‘cure’ him. It is Margaret who reveals a love so great that she can make the final sacrifice.
Books included in the VMC 40th anniversary series include: 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; and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
It is 1946 and the people of France and England are facing the aftermath of the War. Sent by her beautiful, indolent mother to England, Barbary Deniston is thrown into the care of her distinguished father and conventional stepmother. Barbary has spent her childhood years in the sunshine of Provence. During the War, she ran wild with the Maquis, experiencing collaboration, betrayal and resistance. In peacetime the young woman has been taken away from all she knows and placed into the drab austerity of postwar London life.
Confused and unhappy, she discovers the flowering bomb craters around St Paul’s Cathedral. Here, in the bombed heart of London, with the outcasts living on the edge of society, she finds an echo of the wilderness of Provence and is forced to confront the wilderness within herself.
Denham Dobie has been brought up in Andorra by her father, a retired clergyman. On his death, she is snatched from this reclusive life and thrown into the social whirl of London by her sophisticated relatives. Denham, however, provides a candid response to the niceties of ‘civilised’ behaviour. Crewe Train is Macaulay’s wittiest social satire. The reactions of Denham to the manners and modes of the highbrow circle in which she finds herself provide a devastating – and very funny – social commentary as well as a moving story.
This bitingly funny, elegantly written comedy of manners is as absorbing and entertaining today as on the book’s first publication in 1926.
The Observing Eye is a collection of Muriel Spark’s brilliant asides, sayings, and aphorisms. No other writer can hold a candle to her wry, puckish observations:
‘Neurotics are awfully quick to notice other people’s mentalities.’
‘It is impossible to persuade a man who does not disagree, but smiles.’
‘The sacrifice of pleasure is of course itself a pleasure.’
‘Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time in your life it may occur.’
‘Ridicule is the only honourable weapon we have left.’
Spark’s striking insights are precise and unforgettable – they will make you laugh and nod in agreement, with a wicked smile on your face. Her wise words never fail to hit exactly the right note.
This is a devastating book. It is matter-of-fact, makes no attempt to score political points, does not attempt to solicit sympathy for its protagonist and yet is among the most chilling indictments of war I have ever read. Everybody, in particular every woman ought to read it’ – Arundhati Roy
‘One of the most important personal accounts ever written about the effects of war and defeat’ – Antony Beevor
Between April 20th and June 22nd 1945 the anonymous author of A Woman in Berlin wrote about life within the falling city as it was sacked by the Russian Army. Fending off the boredom and deprivation of hiding, the author records her experiences, observations and meditations in this stark and vivid diary. Accounts of the bombing, the rapes, the rationing of food, and the overwhelming terror of death are rendered in the dispassionate, though determinedly optimistic prose of a woman fighting for survival amidst the horror and inhumanity of war.
This diary was first published in America in 1954 in an English translation and in Britain in 1955. A German language edition was published five years later in Geneva and was met with tremendous controversy. In 2003, over forty years later, it was republished in Germany to critical acclaim – and more controversy. This diary has been unavailable since the 1960s and this is a new English translation. A Woman in Berlin is an astonishing and deeply affecting account.
Susan Ferrier sold more copies of her novels than her contemporary, Jane Austen. Sir Walter Scott declared her his equal. Why, then has she been lost to history? On the 200th anniversary of this sharply observed, comic novel, it is time to rediscover her brilliance.
‘What have you to do with a heart? What has anybody to do with a heart when their establishment in life is at stake? Keep your heart for your romances, child, and don’t bring such nonsense into real life – heart, indeed!’
Understanding that the purpose of marriage is to further her family, Lady Juliana nevertheless rejects the ageing and unattractive – though appropriately wealthy – suitor of her father’s choice. She elopes, instead, with a handsome, penniless soldier and goes to Scotland to live at Glenfarn Castle, his paternal home. But Lady Juliana finds life in the Scottish highlands dreary and bleak, hastily repenting of following her heart.
After giving birth to twin daughters, Lady Juliana leaves Mary to the care of her sister-in-law, while she returns to England with Adelaide. Sixteen years later, Mary is thoughtful, wise and kind, in comparison to her foolish mother and vain sister.
Following two generations of women, Marriage, first published in 1818, is a shrewdly observant and humorous novel by one of Scotland’s greatest writers.
‘Warm and funny, this tale of a pint-size pig and the family he saves will take up a giant space in your heart’ KIRAN MILLWOOD HARGRAVE
‘What a consummate storymaker Nina Bawden is’ MICHAEL MORPURGO
WINNER OF THE GUARDIAN AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S FICTION
‘D’ya want a peppermint pig, Mrs Greengrass?’
Poll looked at the milkman, thinking of sweets, but there was a real pig poking its snout out of the milkman’s coat pocket. It was the tiniest pig she had ever seen. ‘What’s a peppermint pig?’
‘Runt of the litter. Too small for the sow to raise. He’d only get trampled in in the rush.’
Mother took the pig from him and held it firmly while it kicked and squealed. ‘Well, he seems strong enough. And even runts grow.’
‘Oh,’ Poll said. ‘Oh, Mother.’ She stroked the small, wriggling body. ‘Theo,’ she shouted, ‘Look what we’ve got!’
It is a difficult year for the Greengrasses. Poll’s father has lost his job and gone overseas, the family are living off the charity of two aunts, and Poll and her brother Theo just can’t seem to keep out of trouble. It takes a tiny, mischievous pig to bring laughter back into their lives.
This is a collection of the best children’s literature, curated by Virago, and will be coveted by children and adults alike. These are timeless tales with beautiful covers, that will be treasured and shared across the generations. Some titles you will already know; some will be new to you, but there are stories for everyone to love, whatever your age. Our list includes Nina Bawden (Carrie’s War, The Peppermint Pig), Rumer Godden (The Dark Horse, An Episode of Sparrows), Joan Aiken (The Serial Garden, The Gift Giving) E. Nesbit (The Psammead Trilogy, The Bastable Trilogy, The Railway Children), Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Little Princess,The Secret Garden) and Susan Coolidge (The What Katy Did Trilogy). Discover Virago Children’s Classics.