Hurst Street Press launch at Spike Island: ANON vol.i.

ANON: THE LAUNCH | 30.11.17 | 7-9pm


Join us for the launch of ANON: a new series of publications from Hurst Street Press. ANON seeks to celebrate the work of undervalued women writers, republishing their work alongside commissioned responses from new writers, academics and artists. Each book will be letterpress and risograph printed, hand-stitched and initially limited to a print run of 100 copies.
 
The launch of volume one includes three small editions, showcasing the work of three early twentieth century authors: Charlotte Mew, Elizabeth Bibesco, and Mary Butts.

The 30th November event in Spike Island, Bristol will mark the launch of volume one of the series, showcasing the work of three early twentieth century authors in three separate editions: Charlotte Mew, Elizabeth Bibesco, and Mary Butts.

Charlotte Mew: Perhaps the best known of the three writers, many will recognise Mew for her rich and subversive verse. Mew’s command of narrative is celebrated in our edition of her neglected short fiction – writing of such morbid allure that it forcibly draws the reader into its midst. Whether it is the detached masculinity of Baudelaire’s flaneur or the muscular aestheticism of Wilde, Mew infiltrates and interrogates the complacency of the male gaze.

Mary Butts: Occultist, pacifist, conservationist, social worker and, of course, writer, Mary Butts is probably best known for her two early novels: Ashe of Rings and Armed with Violence. Yet it is her short fiction that truly allows her distinctive and free-formed voice to flourish – stories that capture the excitement and anxiety of the interwar era, and probe capitalism’s reconstruction of the human psyche.  We’re particularly pleased to be re-publishing Butt’s long out-of-print essay: ‘Warning to Hikers’, her incendiary polemic against an anthropocentric conception of space.       

Elizabeth Bibesco: Daughter of a prime minister, wife of a Romanian prince and a close friend to Marcel Proust, Bibesco – like many women – is repeatedly defined by her relationship to men. We would like to help take her out of their shadows; Bibesco’s fiction marks her out as a brilliant and uncharacteristically compassionate satirist, with taut prose and a ‘genius for compression’ that puts her on a par with Edith Wharton.

This event will feature readings from the works and a panel discussion focussing on the works of the three writers, as well as the challenges involved in artistically and critically responding to the works.

Books will be on sale, artwork on display. Ticket includes drinks. 


INTRODUCTION

Beth Barnett is an illustrator, editor and co-founder of Hurst Street Press. Her specific interests include female writers of the short story, writing the body and disease and networks of circulation. Beth will introduce the parameters and intentions of ANON, discussing the importance of continually raising awareness of female writers and the role that small publishers can play.

PANEL

Chair: Lily Green is the editor and founder of Bristol-based publication No Bindings (www.nobindings.co.uk), Lily has recently been awarded a British Council ‘new Art new Audiences’ grant, to work on a publishing collaboration with Rwandan-based Huza Press and the Kenyan literary network, Kwani? Lily’s experience places her somewhere between print-maker and publisher, with a particular interest in the role of multi-media arts within the community.

Lauren Collee has had her poetry, prose and woodblock prints published in Eyot Magazine, Draft, and IRIS II and III. She is interested in social imaginings of the natural world, and her postgraduate research explored ways in which seabirds in the Outer Hebrides resist and disrupt narrative framings of the island-wilderness. She currently works part-time assisting with the production of a radio show and podcast for a London-based community repair organisation. When she is not at work, she continues to write, woodblock, and silently interrogate the water-birds at Woodberry Down.

Grace Linden completed her art foundation year at the Royal Drawings School, and is currently at the University of Oxford studying for a BA in Classics. Her poetry has been published in the Ash Anthology, The Isis Magazine, Eyot and The Oxonian Review and was the Oxford Editor of the Mays Anthology 25. She has exhibited her work in the Dolphin gallery in St Johns College (Oxford), and in the the Ruskin School of Art.

Daniel Abdalla is working on his PhD in nineteenth-century literature and science at Wadham College, Oxford.

Helen Charman’s poems have been published in Blackbox Manifold, Hotel, Datableed and elsewhere, and are forthcoming in para·text. Her essays can be found in King’s Review, Dazed and Confused, the LRB blog and the Cambridge Humanities Review. She currently teaches undergraduates at the University of Cambridge, where she is also writing her PhD thesis on maternity and sacrifice.

READING

We’re delighted to have poet Camille Ralphs reading from the works. Ralph’s debut pamphlet, Malkin (The Emma Press, 2015), was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Award and the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. She served as 2016-17 President of Oxford University Poetry Society, won the University of Oxford’s Lord Alfred Douglas Memorial Prize, and reviews for the Times Literary Supplement.


PT. 2 Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Who was she?

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s was a writer, editor, social activist and lecturer: during her lifetime, producing over 180 short stories, 9 serialised novels, 3 poetry collections, 10 nonfiction books and a countless number of nonfiction essays and articles as well as lectures. Although she was perhaps more theorist than literary genius, some of the pieces she wrote, including Herland, Women and Economics and The Man-Made World, are genuinely remarkable for their radicalism, progressiveness and imagination.

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1860, Gilman’s father left the family during her infancy. Consequently, she spent much of her early life in poverty, having to relocate often in order to stay with various relatives across the United States. Perhaps because of this Gilman was not inclined to marry, and, when she did, the relationship ended in a controversial divorce. During this marriage, Gilman gave birth to her only child, Katharine, fell into a dark bout of postpartum depression and was prescribed a rest cure, a period that has been well documented in the reception of her most famous work, the short story, ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper’.

During the 1890s Gilman became actively involved in various social reform movements and published her first collection of poetry, a satirical series entitled In This Our World, in 1893. She also began to lecture, initially on nationalism and ultimately on a vast range of topics from women’s equality, ethics, human rights and social reform. Between 1909 and 1916 Gilman single-handedly wrote, edited, and published The Forerunner, a magazine with a readership of 1500 subscribers, which became the main forum for the publication of a wide range of her writing including short stories, serialized versions of her novels and utopian fiction, and her sociological writings, including The Man-Made World or Our Androcentric Culture.

Gilman’s second marriage, to her cousin George Houghton Gilman, was a happy one until his sudden death in 1934. In 1932, Gilman herself learnt that she had terminal breast cancer, and, knowing that she was dying, overdosed on chloroform in August 1935.

Writing:

For Gilman, writing was an intrinsic aspect of her social reform; she believed ‘writing is precisely the very possibility of change, the space that can serve as a springboard for subversive thought, the precursory movement of a transformation of social and cultural structures.’ While Gilman’s career as a lecturer and orator was often first and foremost in her mind, and its influence can be felt within many of her works, she recognized the unique power of the written word, stating:

We live, humanly, only through our power of communication. Speech gives us this power laterally, as it were, in immediate personal contact. […] Literature gives not only an infinite multiplication to the lateral spread of communion but adds the vertical reach. Through it we know the past, govern the present, and influence the future.

The written word’s appeal came from its permanence; its tangible form that enables both a ‘lateral spread’ – its dissemination through space – and a ‘vertical reach’ – its residual power through time. Unlike her lectures, which were restricted to a specific spatio-temporal environment and necessarily warped through repetition, the written word remained unchanged for future readers, maintaining its rhetoric impact.

Perhaps unusually however, the kind of writing Gilman focused on was not just theoretical or nonfictional, but fictional and literary, those ‘powerful addition[s] to [one’s] armoury.’ Gilman’s work shows extensive and masterful experimentation with various prose and lyric genres, often drawing upon the historical conventions of parable, fable, legend or homily: from the allegorical ‘An Extinct Angel’ to the fantasy ‘When I was a Witch,’ or ‘An Unnatural Mother,’ which takes the form of a legend retold through the voices of certain female locals. However, despite their disparate genres and styles, Gilman’s writing shares a uniform didactic intentionality. Gilman was well aware that the power fiction could play in calling upon the sympathies of one’s reader and rallying them into political action.

The influence of Gilman’s career as a lecturer can be felt throughout her work, as she transgresses what Cixous calls, ‘that scission, that division made by the common man between the logic of oral speech and the logic of the text.’ Stories such as ‘The Widow’s Might’ and ‘Mr Peeble’s Heart’ could be seen as written homilies in their use of simplistic characterisation, generic structure, and clear moral evaluation. These stories consistently offer practical solutions to escape the drudgery of sterile marriages, solutions that combine intellectual and personal stimulation with economic independence, inevitably resulting in mutual satisfaction for both husband and wife. Often Gilman includes exact monetary sums and explicit instructions for her readers, portraying women who establish their own commercial enterprises that scope from personal shopping (‘Mrs Elder’s Idea’), to crèches (‘Making a Change’), to housekeeping businesses (‘What Diantha Did’). Gilman’s stories are not only fictionally engaging but are also actively instructive.

Ultimately, Gilman absorbs the ‘logic’ of orality into her written stories and consequently creates an innovative generic hybridity. In many ways, her writing, although perhaps less sophisticated, seems to anticipate the stylistic fluidity and discursiveness of Virginia Woolf’s polemic or theoretical works Three Guineas and A Room of One’s Own, in which Woolf integrates fictional asides in order to illustrate her point and maintain the reader/listener’s attention and imagination.

Fun Fact:

  1. Via her father, Frederic Beecher Perkins, Gilman was the great granddaughter of Lyman Beecher and the great-niece of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  2. Gilman coined the term ‘androcentric’, meaning focused or centered on men.

What kind of legacy did she leave?

This question is best left to scholars of Gilman’s work: as Ann Lane writes in Herland and Beyond, ‘Gilman offered perspectives on major issues of gender with which we still grapple; the origins of women’s subjugation, the struggle to achieve both autonomy and intimacy in human relationships; the central role of work as a definition of self; new strategies for rearing and educating future generations to create a humane and nurturing environment.’

Current interest?

Gilman is perhaps one of the better known female writers of this period. In academic circles there has been and remains a fair amount of interest in her work, perhaps more so in America, but sadly she remains relatively overlooked in public readership. Encouraged partly by feminist presses in the 1970s who somewhat reclaimed certain of her works, most reader’s knowledge of her work includes ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, and sometimes Herland. Oddly, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is somewhat singular in Gilman’s oevre with most of her work employing very different styles and tones, which might account for this lack of sustained interest. However, while many of her fictional stories can seem somewhat forcedly polemical, their brevity and accessibility make them worth a read, while her theoretical works offer a fascinating insight into the sociological and economic debates of Gilman’s time.


Further Reading:

Biographical:

  • The best biography is Cynthia J. Davis’ Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Biography.

Access to Works:

  • Amazingly the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard have uploaded a huge amount of Gilman’s writing to this online archive.
  • There’s also this website dedicated to her, which is pretty good despite its questionable font choices.
  • If you prefer hard copy books then the Penguin edition of Herland & Collected Works is a good place to start!

General/Academic:

  • If you would like a comprehensive critical bibliography you can find one here.

However, online access to articles about Gilman’s work include:

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Pt.1 George Egerton

Who was she?

Mary Chavelita Bright Dunne known by her pseudonym George Egerton.

Although born in Australia in 1859 to Welsh and Irish parents, after her mother’s death, Egerton settled in Ireland with her father and younger siblings. The maternal death also ended Egerton’s ideas of becoming an artist, instead she was forced to train as a nurse. In 1880, Egerton eloped with a married man, Henry Higgins, to Norway, whom she married in 1888 and divorced two years later. Despite only living in Norway for a few years, Egerton learnt the language and was exposed to the work of Nietzsche, Ibsen and Knut Hamsun (to whom her first collection was dedicated) who were to have an important influence on her writing. After her divorce Egerton remarried and returned to Ireland. Her second husband Egerton Tertius Clairmonte was a failing author and their economic situation forced Egerton to take up her own pen for income. As her biographer and nephew Terence de Vere White wrote, ‘Her elopement with Higginson gave her the material for a book; her second husband, by his dependence on her, gave her the motive to employ it.’

Egerton’s first collection, Keynotes, was published by John Lane and Elkin Matthews of Bodley Head when she was 34, and sold 6,000 copies evidencing her contemporary popularity. However, Egerton also faced harsh criticism for her progressive portrayals of women and sometimes polemical narration, and was famously lampooned in Punch in the parodic piece ‘Borgia Smudgerton’. Subsequently, much of her later and perhaps more experimental work fell into obscurity and she died in 1945 aged 86.

Writing:

Egerton mainly wrote short stories which were published in collections, including Keynotes (1893), Discords (1894), Symphonies (1897) and Flies in Amber (1905), and in the periodicals/little magazines of the day such as Henry Harland’s The Yellow Book. Egerton also published a collection of Nietzschean fables: Fantasias (1898), and two novels: The Wheel of God (1898) and Rosa Amorosa (1901) which is partly biographical, as well as several stage plays.

Egerton herself knew her formal comfort zone; ‘I was a short, at most a long story, writer. For years they came in droves and said themselves, leaving no scope for padding or altered endings; the long book was not my pigeon.’ Egerton describes her creative process as both spontaneous and informal, telling her nephew in 1930 that she had written the stories for Keynotes, ‘straight off […] ‘The Little Grey Glove’ on the back of an upturned tea-tray after supper in the gauger’s cottage near Millstreet, Co. Cork.’

Why is she interesting?

Egerton is often linked with the aestheticism of the 1890s and more specifically the ‘New Women’ movement, including authors such as Oscar Wilde, Henry Harland, Ella D’Arcy and Vernon Lee. Despite this connection, Egerton explicitly rejected any affiliation with women’s suffrage or feminist writers stating, ‘I had, contrary to opinion, no propaganda in view – no emancipation theory to propound, no equality to illumine.’ Ironically, I would argue that much of Egerton’s prose falls foul of just what she denies: her propaganda. In A Room of One’s Own Woolf accuses Charlotte Brontë of a rage that leaves her books ‘deformed and twisted’; she says Bronte was ‘at war with her lot’, full of an anger at her societal position that disrupted and undermined the genius of her writing. Egerton did not perhaps possess the genius of Brontë and her sometimes page-long ‘editorial’ digressions totally distract from the beauty of her prose. In ‘Now Spring Has Come’, for example, the first person narrator turns from a description of events to an anger-fuelled rant that has far more of Egerton’s voice than her own:

What half creatures we are, we women! – hermaphrodite by force of circumstances, deformed results of a fight of centuries between physical suppression and natural impulses to fulfil our destiny.

Writing retrospectively in 1930, Egerton instead summarises her motivations for writing in the following words:

I realised that in literature, everything had been better done by man than woman could hold to emulate. There was only one small plot left for her to tell: the terra incognita of herself, as she knew herself to be, not as man liked to imagine her – in a word, to give herself away, as man had given himself to writings.

The narrative forms Egerton employs are conducive to this desire for intimate self-expression, while her eschewal of linear plot in favour of temporally fragmented vignettes foregrounds the psychological interior of her characters. For example, the stories ‘A Psychological Moment’ and ‘Now Spring has Come’ are both constructed through a collection of disparate memories that have seemingly little connection; something which forces the reader to extrapolate meaning. This structural and formal experimentalism has led many critics to label her as a ‘protomodernist’; what Showalter refers to as the ‘missing link’ between the complex narratives of Victorian novelists and the self-conscious high modernism of the early 20th Century. Many of the stories included in Egerton’s first two collections Keynotes and Discords are constructed through oral narratives; spoken confidences, confessions or conversations that allow her female characters to ‘give herself away’, often (within the story) to a sympathetic audience in the form of another female character.

Egerton’s essentialist approach to gender isolated her from the suffrage movement and is perhaps what has made some of her work slightly distasteful to modern audiences, however her writing is undeniably an important lens through which to view the waning of Victorian norms and ideals about gender and society.

Fun Fact:

Translated Knut Hamsun’s first novel, Hunger, into English and was credited with the first reference to Nietzsche in English literature, 10 years before his work was first translated into English.

 

What kind of legacy did she leave?

  • Thomas Hardy in Jude the Obscure, stated that Sue Bridgehead was influenced by Egerton’s writing and her own life.
  • Similarities can be traced between the writing of Egerton and D.H. Lawrence, due to their mutual interest in Nietzsche’s philosophy.
  • It’s been noted that The Wheel of God reads as a sort of rudimentary template for Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Current interest?

Much of Egerton’s work remains unpublished since it was first published in the 19th Century. There was a republication of Keynotes and Discords by Virago in 1995, edited by Martha Vicinus and another by Bloomsbury in 2003, with an introduction by Sally Ledger.

There is some academic interest in her work, with a recent two-day conference on her writing in the UK (April 2017), documented here and here. Academics including, Showalter, Gabriel Josopovici and Catherine Maxwell have also written on her work, while she often features in research on fin-de-siècle writing, New Women and Irish writing, and the history of the short story.


Further Reading:

Biographical:

  • A Leaf from The Yellow Book: The Correspondence of George Egerton, ed. by Terence de Vere White (London: Richards, 1958).
  • Great summative article written by Eleanor Fitzsimmons about Egerton’s life.

Online Access to Works:

General/Academic:

Bookbinding & Marbling Workshop

As part of Oxford’s Festival of the Arts, we will be hosting a bookbinding and marbling workshop at Magdalen College School on Saturday June 24th.

The event is open to all ages and will be a great chance to find out more about how books are traditionally made.

You will have the chance to produce and take away your own personalized notebook and have a go at contemporary marbling techniques – make sure to wear scruffy clothes!

IRIS III Cambridge Launch

On Tuesday 13th June, we packed up and headed off to Cambridge for an evening launch event at Granchester’s Orchard Tea Garden.

The event featured readings from six of our wonderful writers, whose work has been featured in IRIS. We kicked off with Arabella Currie, reading a new poem, as she humbly stated, ‘about cows’, followed by Lili Hamlyn who read extracts from her piece ‘Coney Island’ from IRIS II (more to come at the end of this year, when we publish a full collection!), and Harry Long, who again read from a new poem. The second half of the evening featured Leo Temple (IRIS III), who we were thrilled to hear, having read his poems multiple times, and Marek Sullivan (III), before finishing with Camille Ralphs.

We had a wonderful turn out and drinks in abundance. We’d like to thank everyone who came, in particular those readers who traveled from Oxford and London, as well as the organisers of the Orchard, it was a beautiful and relaxed location.

 

IRIS in Cambridge

On Tuesday 13th June we will be taking IRIS on the road to Cambridge for an event at The Orchard Tea Garden.

The event will feature a series of readings from contributors across all three editions of IRIS, including Marek Sullivan, Arabella Currie, Leo Temple, Lili Hamlyn and Harry Long.

As always, drinks will be free and books will be for sale (including special hardback editions). Plus the added bonus of a beautiful outdoor setting by the river Cam – home to a long literary tradition, attracting the likes of Woolf, Keynes, Forster, Russell, Wittgenstein.

Let us know via Facebook if you’re interested in coming along!

 

Becca Thornton ft. as Artist of the Week

IRIS III contributor, Becca Thornton has been featured as the OR’s Artist of the Week. Becca is from Macclesfield and is in her final year, studying Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art. Her website is here and her Instagram is here.

Her work is stunning in its diversity and precision. The following series is called Shadow Accounts and are ink and pencil drawings on ledger paper, produced at night. We featured two of the series in IRIS, but here is a wider selection.

Becca’s work will be featured in the Ruskin Fine Art Degree Show, opening on Friday 16th June.

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IRIS Contributors Ft. in The Oxonian Review

We’re so happy to see two of our writers from IRIS have been featured in The Oxonian Review – an online publication run by University of Oxford Graduates.

You can see the brilliant Leo Temple’s poems  (IRIS III) here.

As well as a review of S-Town by Lili Hamlin, here, whose piece ‘Coney Island’ was featured in IRIS II. The Press will be publishing a full-length collection of Lili’s work later this year.

Ways of Walking: Launch & Fundraiser

On Tuesday 6th June, we will be hosting the launch of a publication by Theophilus Kwek and Alvin Ong, entitled Ways of Walking at the Handle Bar Cafe in Oxford. The collection features a stunning nine-part series of original paintings and poetry concluded by a brief essay by Theo.

Most importantly, all the money raised from the publication will be donated to Refugee Resource, an Oxford-based charity that works to relieve distress, improve well-being and facilitate the integration of refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants through the provision of psychological, social and practical support.

The event will feature readings from local poets along the theme of journeys and the books will be on sale for a minimum contribution of £6, but you are welcome to donate as much as possible.

Please come along and join us to both celebrate the work of Theo & Alvin and to raise as much as possible for this fantastic charity.

 

Literature & Commerce: A Panel Event

“A mere literary man is a dull man; a man who is solely a man of business is a selfish man; but when literature and commerce are united, they make a respectable man.” Samuel Richardson
 
“When the motivation [for writing] is merely a desire for money or publicity […] there occurs a pervasive monotony in the product corresponding to the underlying monotony in the motivation.” Ezra Pound
 
“Earn five hundred a year by your wits.” Virginia Woolf
 

 THE PANEL
 
Hurst Street Press will be hosting a panel discussion about literature & the arts and its relationship with the commercial world, on Monday 27th March, following the launch of IRIS III.
 
James Daunt founded Daunt Books in 1990, a collection of shops that began as one of Marleybone High Street and now number 6 London-based stores. In 2011 James became the CEO of Waterstones, turning around the fortunes of the high street chain that had somewhat lost its way – you can read more about this here.
Kirsty Gunn is a short story writer and novellist, known for titles such as The Boy & The Sea, Infidelities, The Big Music and most recently My Katherine Mansfield Project. Gunn is also a professor of writing practice at the University of Dundee where she coordinates a creative writing course.
David Graham has been the MD of Pavilion Books since 2014, prior to which he worked with Portobello & Granta as well as Canongate.
Professor Peter D. McDonald is a Tutorial Fellow in English at St Hugh’s College in the University of Oxford. Professor McDonald’s research focuses upon the relationship between literature and the law and literary institutions since 1880.
 
Chair: Beth Sparks, co-founder of Hurst Street Press.