On this Mother's Day, I can think of nothing more fitting than telling you about a London bookstore that not only bares my mother's name, it also reprints and honors books that are written by women, for women and about women. One of the greatest gifts my mother ever gave me was a love of reading and a love of bookshops, so when I came across Persephone Books when I was last in London, I was enthralled. This is a unique and unusual bookshop, and you will love not only their book titles, but you will also love their beautiful, handcrafted books.
The bookshop reprints mainly neglected (mostly 20th century) fiction and non-fiction books written by women. As they note on their website, the titles are chosen to appeal to busy women who rarely have time to spend in ever-larger bookshops and who would like to have access to a list of books designed to be neither too literary nor too commercial. The majority of their sales are through mail order, through select shops and through their own shop (pictured above & left). So, even if you are located in the United States, take a look at their website, as I know you will love the books you see there.
Persephone's currently has 93 titles, including novels, short stories, diaries and cookbooks. Their books are works of art as each book is carefully designed with a dove-grey jacket, a 'fabric' endpaper and bookmark. Each endpaper design is especially chosen to match the date and the overall mood of the book.
Here are some Persephone classic titles:
1. The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
2. Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple.
3. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson.
4. Mariana by Monica Dickens.
5. Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey.
6. The World That Was Ours by Hilda Bernstein.
Persephone's website has a wonderful list of suggested books for various tastes called The Perfect Present, with suggestions for book lovers who may be 'the ghost story enthusiast', 'someone fed up with contemporary fiction and 'the crime novel enthusiast'. In addition, they have a phenomenal book club, so you can choose a selection of titles to send to your favorite female literary enthusiast, either once a month, or for six, or even twelve months.
So to my mother Persephone, Happy Mother's Day.
Notes: Persephone Books is located at 59 Lamb's Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB.