Persephone books have reached the magic hundred (I personally own 46 if anyone is curious) which seems like something to celebrate more especially since it looks like there will be more to come. A year or two back there was talk that they might stop at a hundred titles and although it's a nice round number, and there might be a sort of sense in that, it would be such a shame to have no more Persephone books to look forward to. I'm already particularly excited by news that they're publishing Elizabeth de Waal's 'The Exiles Return' as book 102. Elizabeth's story doesn't get much of an airing in Edmund de Waal's 'Hare With Amber Eyes' but there's a sense that it's worth hearing so I expect this book to be one of next years highlights.
I hope to call into the Persephone shop later this month to pick up a copy of 'Patience' and possibly a few other titles (well it would be nice to have a round 50 titles...) I'm also coveting the Emma Bridgewater Jug and Bowl that commemorate the occasion and as it'll be almost my birthday by then perhaps I'll feel like I can be that extravagent. Who knows, maybe I'll even take them some 'Persephone Jam' (would that be to weird a thing to do?) because I do feel that some sort of thank you beyond spending money is due.
Along with quite a few other bloggers I got a surprise copy of 'The Persephone Book Of Short Stories' through the post as their thank you for my (our) enthusiasm over the years (it's precisely the sort of thing one daydreams about happening). I'm a big fan of short stories and this is a nice collection. Some are already familiar to me, like Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery', some others from the Persephone Biannually, but I haven't read many of them and am looking forward to working my way through the collection.
Persephone books are the sort of thing where you most definitely remember your first time. I discovered them in 2004, I must have read about them somewhere and they sounded like just the thing for some reviews I was writing for a local magazine. I called them and instead of the one book I was interested in I got sent 3, they also recommended an online book group I might like. I did.
There are no shortage of publishers specialising in reprints and rescuing lost classics these days but 8 years ago there were rather fewer, Persephone Books looked very different to anything else around and still feels like more of a lifestyle choice than most books do. There is the shop for a start - a pilgrimage point for the devoted, the Biannually helps with the club atmosphere, as do all the enthusiastic online readers - not even a love of Virago books has led to so many real life friendships. There is also the very classy merchandise (Emma Bridgewater, those lovely diaries...) always strictly limited and very desirable. Over all though I think it's Nicola Beauman herself that makes Persephone so special. These books feel like an extension of her personality, you simply can't imagine anything she wasn't absolutely passionate about getting through the net. I might not share that passion for every single book but seeing those grey covers is as good a recommendation as any I know.