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Don't Stop the Presses! Women's and Feminist Presses

Women's and Feminist Presses exist all over the world and have come into being to fill a need for women's literature their respective cultures or countries, many reaching out to a worldwide audience. Their missions may be somewhat different but at their roots, their purpose is to support both women and their writing. Here we present ten presses operating in English, introduced in their own words as much as possible. Books shown are only a sampling of vast array of titles these publishers represent.

Book Cover: Hiroshima in the Morning

The Feminist Press at CUNY

New York, USA.
The Feminist Press is an independent nonprofit literary publisher that promotes freedom of expression and social justice. We publish exciting writing by women and men who share an activist spirit and a belief in choice and equality. Founded in 1970, we began by rescuing "lost" works by writers such as Zora Neale Hurston and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and established our publishing program with books by American writers of diverse racial and class backgrounds. Since then we have also been bringing works from around the world to North American readers. We seek out innovative, often surprising books that tell a different story.

Book Cover: The Village and The World

Spinifex Press

North Melbourne, Australia.
Spinifex Press is an independent Australian feminist press that was co-founded in 1991 by Susan Hawthorne and Renate Klein. We publish innovative and controversial feminist books with an optimistic edge. Our namesake is an Australian desert grass that holds the earth together. Spinifex titles cover a wide range of subjects from politics to mythology, humour to international relations, ecology to relationships, literary fiction to cultural critique, women's health to poetry, as well as specialist lists on African, Asian and lesbian writing. We have published writers from every continent including Indigenous authors from many countries. Our reach is from the local to the international, and we have distribution in Australia, New Zealand, North America and Britain.

Book Cover: Lily in Winter
Women's Press

Toronto, Canada.
Women's Press, Canada's oldest English-language feminist publisher, was founded under collective ownership in 1972. It became an imprint of Canadian Scholars' Press in 2000. CSPI has upheld the press's commitment to conserving a space in the publishing industry devoted to the circulation of women's ideas, through high-quality feminist writing that contributes to the cultural and social identity of Canada. Women's Press books are geared toward both the academic and the general market. We produce texts that can be used in teaching a variety of social science subjects; we also publish a select number of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction titles.

Book Cover: Restitution

Second Story Press

Toronto, Canada.
Second Story Press was co-founded in 1988 by Margie Wolfe and three other women dedicated to publishing feminist-inspired books for adults and young readers. We are thrilled that 2009 marked our 20th year of publishing great books that matter. Our books are sold around the world, have been translated into over 50 languages, won many awards, and have been adapted for film and stage. Our list spans adult fiction and nonfiction, children's fiction, nonfiction and picture books, and YA fiction and nonfiction. We continue to look for stories that feature strong female characters and explore themes of social justice, human rights, equality, and ability issues.

Book Cover: No Excuses

Seal Press

Seattle, Washington, USA.
Inspired by the simple yet radical notion that a book can change a woman's life, Seal Press is devoted to publishing titles that inform, reveal, engage, delight, and support women of all ages and backgrounds. Seal Press was founded in 1976 as a small DIY publisher to provide a forum for women writers and feminist issues, and since then, Seal has published groundbreaking books that represent the diverse voices and interests of women. Seal's continually growing list includes books about women's health, parenting, outdoor adventure and travel literature, popular culture, sexuality, gender and transgender life, sports, relationships, memoir, careers, finance, current affairs, and much more.

Book Cover: A Woman's Voice

FEMRITE (Uganda Women Writers' Association)

Kampala, Uganda.
The Uganda Women Writers' Association was founded by Hon. Mary Karoro Okurut in 1995 and it was officially launched on 3rd May 1996. While Africa boasts of a rich literary tradition, there has been a general absence of women writers and this has resulted into an omission of women's experiences from the literary and cultural heritage that shape society. In Uganda for example, before FEMRITE came into being, the literary landscape was dominated by male writers. FEMRITE publishes short fiction, novels, poetry, memoirs and nonfiction books by its members. Read Belletrista's 2009 article on FEMRITE.

WEAVE (Women's Education & Artistic Voice Expression)

Capetown, South Africa. Online information can be found on the Woman's World website
WEAVE is a black women's writing and publishing collective founded in 1997. Frustrated by the fact that so few black women were being published; astonished by hearing publishers say it was time blacks wrote about something new, instead of apartheid and struggle; and concerned about the way black characters were depicted by white writers, members of WEAVE decided to find a way to tell their own story. Since then they have met regularly, performed their work in many public venues, given three one-day writing workshops for aspiring black women writers, and published the first self-published, multi-genre collection of Black women's writing to come out of contemporary South Africa, ink@boiling point, edited by Malika Conning Ndlovu, Shelley Barry, and Deela Khan.

Book Cover: Women's Voices

Persephone Books

London, United Kingdom.

Persephone prints mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women. 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 books are guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget. Our titles include novels, short stories, diaries and cookery books. They are all carefully designed with a clear typeface, a dove-grey jacket, a 'fabric' endpaper and bookmark, and a preface by writers such as Jilly Cooper, Adam Gopnik, and Jacqueline Wilson.

Book Cover: Half the Sky

Virago Press

London, United Kingdom.
One of the most vigorous, stylish and successful British publishing imprints, Virago is the outstanding international publisher of contemporary and classic women's literature. It is the largest women's imprint in the world and has made commercial success of publishing books of quality and originality. The first Virago Modern Classic was published in 1978. It launched a list dedicated to the celebration of women writers and to the rediscovery and reprinting of their works. Its aim was, and is, to demonstrate the existence of a female tradition in literature, and to broaden the sometimes narrow definition of a 'classic', which has often led to the neglect of interesting books. Established in 1973, today's Virago has kept the loyalty of the readers who first thrilled to the shelves of the green-backed Virago Modern Classics and captured the new, edgy and provocative spirit of the young. We are proud of our past and look forward to an exciting future.

Book Cover: Burnt Shadows


Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom.
Honno is an independent co-operative press run by women and committed to bringing you the best in Welsh women's writing. It was established in 1986 by a determined group of volunteers who wanted to increase the opportunities for Welsh women in publishing and bring Welsh women's literature to a wider public. True to its roots the press still only publishes work by women of Wales. Most of Honno's titles are novels, autobiographies and short story anthologies in English but it also publishes poetry, children's and teenage titles and books in Welsh.

Book Cover: Calyx


Oregon, USA.
CALYX is an independent, nonprofit publisher of contemporary writing and art by women, committed to discovering emerging writers and artists from a diversity of backgrounds. CALYX, Inc. includes CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women (published semi-annually) and CALYX Books. CALYX exists to nurture women's creativity by publishing fine literature and art by women. CALYX is committed to introducing a wide audience to high quality literature and art by women, providing a forum for diversity and underrepresented writers and viewpoints, discovering and publishing emerging and developing writers, and preserving publications for future audiences

Belletrista readers should note that while all of these presses publish fiction, we have chosen to picture a variety of books here.
Books pictured, top to bottom:
Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto. The Feminist Press, paperback, 9781558616677
The Village and the World: My Life, Our Times by Maria Mies. Spinifex Press, paperback, 9781876756826
Lily in the Snow by Yan Li. The Women's Press, paperback, 9780889614796
Restitution by Kathy Kacer. Second Story Press, paperback, 9781897187753
No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power by Gloria Fledt. Seal Press, hardcover, 9781580053280
A Woman's Voices, Edited by Mary Karooro Okurut. FEMRITE Publications, paperback, 9789970901036
They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple. Persephone Books, paperback, 9781903155462
You're Welcome to Ulster by Menna Gallie. Honno Press, paperback, 9781906784195
CALYX Journal, Summer 2010; CALYX, paperback.