13th Jan 2012
Linen Press conceiver and contriver Lynn Michell had travelled all the way from Edinburgh to showcase her latest titles at the ambitiously named From the Margins to the Page: Women Writers Give Voices to Heroines of Disrepute.
Biblical storms lashed the high school windows of the library as Michell took turns reading her own work alongside writer Hema Macherla. Mitchell’s sister stepped forward to read in Olukemi Amala’s stead. Eventually the rattling windows began to recede and give way to Indian funeral pyres and British suburban summers.
In the bottom-line obsessed world of contemporary publishers Linen Press has maintained some of the best traditions associated with the early feminist pioneers like Medusa and The Women’s Press.
Mitchell reads every submission and takes the time to encourage struggling female writers. Sales to bookshops are made on an almost door-to-door basis and the staff’s focus upon overlooked female writers is consistent and dedicated.
Despite a Mom ‘n’ Pop store front approach to publishing Michell has made an impression with titles overlooked by other publishers. Successes have included glowing reviews from The Scotsman, a runner-up for the Richard and Judy book list and a title shortlisted for The Guardian’s First Book Award.
As 2012 begins Linen Press appears to be moving away from a slightly floral and fubsy image towards something more design-orientated. Their latest titles draw inspiration from past Orange Prize winners and hint at a bright future for this latest addition to the feminist publishing cannon.
Titles to look out for include The Henry Experiment by Sophie Radice (daughter-in-law of Fay Weldon and best mates with Maggie O’Farrell), heavily referencing We Need to Talk About Kevin in its depiction of the nature vs nurture battle between Henry’s remote father and a concerned stranger, and The Making of Her by Susie Nott-Bower, a contemporary update to The Lives and Loves of a She Devil starring a cataclysmic TV makeover.