Bookish Buzz: Virago Modern Classics Celebrates 40 Years

As many of you may be aware, Virago Modern Classics is turning forty!

To commemorate this momentous occasion, the “international publisher of books by women” will be releasing a special collection of titles on May 3rd.

Thanks to Virago, readers have been introduced (or re-introduced) to nearly 700 books by neglected women writers over the decades. It’s an immeasurable gift and an extraordinary achievement that is worth celebrating.

As VMC Editorial Director, Donna Coonan states:

If women’s stories aren’t published in all their variety, their voices are silenced and only part of human experience – both in the historical and imaginative landscapes – is represented. The Virago Modern Classics redrew the map to expose what had been hidden from view. It provided a counterbalance to the existing male-dominated perspective. Creating a platform that values the female experience as equal to the male is crucial: storytelling is central to what it is to be human, and giving a voice to generations of important but neglected women writers benefits everyone. History is incomplete without them.


Thirteen titles will be published in these stunning, deluxe anniversary editions, including:

  • The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
  • The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron
  • Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
  • Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann
  • The Collected Stories by Grace Paley
  • Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault
  • Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
  • A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor
  • The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
  • Frost in May by Antonia White

You can view more about each book here. The beloved and iconic green spines are back as well!


Additionally, Virago is releasing an anthology in hardback, Writers as Readers: A Celebration of Virago Modern Classics, which features writers reflecting on the books they love from the collection. The forty contributors include:

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



Happy, happy 40th Anniversary Virago!! Thank you for championing women writers and women’s stories, and for providing us with an ever-growing list of lovely reads. I think I speak for many of us, when I say I can’t wait to see where the next forty years takes you!

Are you looking forward to any of these anniversary editions? I think Frost in May and Writers as Readers are at the top of my wish list.


All photos taken from the Virago Website 

16 thoughts on “Bookish Buzz: Virago Modern Classics Celebrates 40 Years

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    1. Doesn’t it?! I have a feeling it’s going to increase my TBR list astronomically though!

      The Weather in the Streets is one of my favorites, but I’d recommend reading the prequel, Invitation to the Waltz, first. I don’t think “Weather” would have quite the same impact if you didn’t first spend time with the protagonist Olivia as an adolescent before meeting her here as an adult.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I haven’t read any of the books listed, but I do have some books published by Virago on my shelf and think they’re so pretty. And I just learned recently that they only publish women authors? That makes me love them even more!

    Liked by 1 person

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