Hello! So, over the past few months, I have been working on a small secret project and now I can tell you all about it. Essentially, I got increasingly grumpy and decided to do something about it. Grumpiness is a very good motivational factor! My grumpiness centred about the increasing realisation that the women writers I collected and loved were so often erased from literary histories. Much of this I think comes from out conceptualisation of literary history itself and how it is so driven by patriarchal concerns and the like. You hear a lot about people like Charles Dickens, right, but you very rarely hear about people like Angela Brazil who basically defined the term popular bestseller. E Nesbit only just got the really decent biography she deserves (here’s an affiliate link to the one I mean – it’s really a very good book and I do recommend it). Bessie Marchant was the GA Henty of her day, but there’s like three articles on her in the entirety of Google Scholar and a ton of him. And The Chalet School In Exile is begging for a Netflix adaptation, but I’ll bet you good money that nobody there has ever heard of it.
So! What to do in such circumstances?
You set up a micropublisher, call it Hot Pot Press, and teach yourself how to publish and publish these stories. You teach yourself how to do it (this is no vanity press btw) and you undertake projects for friends and family until you figure it all out.
And when you do, you launch herstory, which is a range of formerly out of print and forgotten children’s classics by female authors – the first of which is Miss Wilmer’s Gang by Bessie Marchant – and you give them a new introduction and a further reading list and all of the added content you can stuff into them on the tiniest and most non-existent of budgets.
You tell people that this is about rewriting wrongs, about bringing these women back into the critical picture, about making them part of the literary world once more. You adopt the mantra that publishing is a feminist act. You realise that this is your academic attitudes made flesh, that research is nothing unless you bring people and stories with you.
You set up options for people to support your publisher by micro-donations or simply following it on Twitter as the world is a lot to handle right now and support is welcome in all and any forms, and when you’ve done all that, that’s when you draft a post all about it on your blog.
And then you press publish.