x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The vital Virago

To commemorate VMC's 30th birthday, Donna Coonan has chosen eight special edition hardbacks with covers designed by famous female textile designers.

Barbara Pym Introduction by Alexander McCall Smith Cover by Orla Kiely "We brought out another of Pym's books, Jane and Prudence, this year and the amount of e-mails I've received from readers thanking us has been fantastic so here's another one. She writes with such gentle cunning about the goings on below the surface of genteel English society."

EM Delafield Introduction by Jilly Cooper Cover by Cath Kidson "We've published this book for years. It's based on a magazine column Delafield wrote that proved so popular it was made into a series of novels. This first volume is about a disaster-prone housewife in 1930s Devon who is obsessed with keeping up appearances."

Elizabeth Taylor Introduction by Elizabeth Jane Howard Cover by Celia Birtwell "Taylor is one of my favourites. She writes exceptionally well about the heart and is also quite funny. Elizabeth Jane Howard was Taylor's friend and her introduction has been with this book for years so even if I could get the biggest writer of today to write a new one I wouldn't."

Jacqueline Susann Introduction by Julie Burchill Cover by Barbara Hulanicki "This is isn't what traditionalists would call a 'classic' but its original publication hailed a new genre of mass-market fiction and it's continued appeal cannot be denied. Julie Burchill says it's 'the most fun you can have without a prescription'."

Helene Hanff Introduction by Juliet Stevenson Cover by Marion Dorn "84 Charing Cross Road is about bibliophiles and how the love of reading connects people across classes and countries. Juliet Stevenson liked the story so much her husband bought her the film rights as a present. She says she loves the feeling that it's touched the hearts of so many readers."

Muriel Spark Introduction by Ali Smith Cover by Lucienne Day "This book is new to the list. We've published two of Spark's titles so far and there are three more to come. She's a wickedly witty writer and this novel is one of the most perceptive books about publishing I've ever read."

Zora Neale Hurston Introduction by Zadie Smith Cover by Lois Milou Jones "Zora Neale Hurston has been a big influence on African-American writers such as Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, who first discovered the author through this book and helped to posthumously make her name. Hopefully Zadie Smith's introduction will also act as a personal recommendation to new readers."

Angela Carter Introduction by Carmen Callil Cover by Jacqueline Groag "We couldn't not have The Magic Toyshop in the anniversary editions. This book is magical, sinister and a huge VMC favourite. Carmen and Angela were great friends so I asked her to write a new introduction."