Bloomsbury editor-in-chief Alexandra Pringle has put together a collection of brightly packaged, mostly comic novels from the first half of the 20th century and called it The Bloomsbury Group. All have been out of print but are being referenced with nostalgic affection on the blogosphere.
The list will launch in August with six paperbacks, including Frank Baker’s Miss Hargreaves, an “endlessly surprising fairytale from the 1930s”, Rachel Ferguson’s “charming” The Brontës Went to Woolworths, and Joyce Dennys’ Henrietta’s War, “a hilarious, wry, but moving social sketch of life in rural wartime Britain”.
Pringle said that she was struck by how many books being discussed on literary blogs were out-of-print period pieces. “Reading exchanges on the blogs set me thinking about what it is we like to read and how we find those books we know we will enjoy and treasure,” she said. “While the publishing industry chases the new, the young, the instantly commercial, readers are often looking for something else—for a kind of enduring quality.”
After conversations with bloggers such as dovegreyreader, randomjottings and others, Pringle and paperback editor Tram-Anh Doan turned to the London Library, Amazon and secondhand bookshops to locate copies of the books involved. Further recommendations followed from Bloomsbury executive director Richard Charkin, who suggested Wolf Mankowitz’s 1950s East End tale A Kid for Two Farthings, and from entertainer Barry Humphries, who rang Bloomsbury to recommend Ada Leverson’s comedy of married life, Love’s Shadow.
Bloomsbury will launch a website intended to become a home for more reader recommendations, and will promote with bookmarks, showcards, greetings card sets and seaside rock.
The first six titles will launch on 3 August 2009 in the UK. No word on North American availability at this point.