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Paris Press

22nd Mar 2011

Paris Press

Paris Press is a “not-for-profit press publishing literature by women writers that has been overlooked by the commercial and independent publishing worlds…books on subjects that have been undervalued…as well as stylistically ground-breaking yet neglected work”

Founded in 1995 in Ashfield, Massachusetts, the press publishes one to three books each year, focusing on ‘beautiful and daring’ work. Part of their mission is to address the lack of gender equality in publishing, which is, justly, something of a hot topic at the moment: see our report on the Novel Women event, and Laura Miller’s article in Salon. For all of their publications, Paris Press place emphasis on “design as well as essential ground-breaking content”, and the website is a treasure trove of important and beautiful works:

On Being Ill by Virginia Woolf, resurrected with an introduction by Hermione Lee and the original cover art by Woolf’s sister, painter Vanessa Bell.

Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson’s Intimate Letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson is a collection compiled by Ellen Louise Hart and Martha Nell Smith, providing insight not just into the relationship between Emily and Susan, but the important role the exhange of ‘letter-poems’ played in their lives.

Other books available include Elizabeth Cady Stanton‘s Solitude of Self  and one that’s jumped straight to the top of my shopping list, Houdini: A Musical by Muriel Rukeyser. Plus, any publisher that offers a limited edition “numbered, signed, and handsewn by the poet” gets my vote! (See Jan Freeman’s Autumn Sequence, a collection of poems exploring the female form and sexuality, accompanied by Siena Sanderson’s charcoal drawings).

2010 was the Paris Press 15th Anniversary, and a year that brought rave reviews for Sisters: An Anthology. Featuring work from over 40 female writers including Ali Smith, Margaret Atwood, Dorothy Parker, Joan Baez and Simone de Beauvoir, the anthology celebrates:

“the beautifully complex world of sisters. A relationship like no other, the unbreakable link between sisters can be at once sweet and loving, fierce and cruel. From childhood to old age, rivalry to devotion, hysterical laughter to tears of grief, the irrevocable bonds between sisters create a unique journey.”

Last year’s activities included readings, interviews and community outreach events for both Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. The ‘Sisters’ celebrations are ongoing, and you can find out more over on the blog.

It’s inspiring to find publishing companies with catalogues of important works, and a strong commitment to outreach and education. Paris Press are currently involved in programmes across America in schools, colleges, museums, community centres and bookstores, reaching a diverse audience and encouraging engagement with literature. Have a gander at their website to find out more about their writers and events, and to snap up one of the wonderful books.

We have also featured Tara Books and Dorothy Project as part of our ‘Publisher Spotlight’ series – are there any independent presses or publishers you would like to see featured on For Books’ Sake? Let us know in the comments section below!

Alex Herod