Persephone Books: Camden’s forgotten female inspired bookstore

By Grace Ricks

From Hampstead Heath to the British Museum, there is plenty to do in Camden. However, in a less appreciated area of Camden sits Holborn, and in Holborn sits this week’s hidden gem. Persephone Books, a publishing house and bookshop in Camden, has taken on the special role of bringing to light the neglected stories of women from the early to mid-twentieth century.

Reprints of novels, diaries, poetry and cookery books highlight many of the plights and pleasures that conflicted women (and some men) around both World Wars and beyond. According to Persephone, all 117 books are “neither too literary nor too commercial,” but are sure to show you the overlooked, witty commentary of the era.

In this bookshop, you’re not allowed to judge a book by its cover. All reprints are concealed with simple, elegant matte gray covers and possess their own eloquently patterned end-papers and matching bookmarks. The more popular titles have been redesigned with a more reader-friendly cover. Most books are £12, or you can purchase three for £30.

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Matte gray covers denote Persephone’s signature publications.

Not sure what you’re looking for? Helpers on staff can direct you to a selection that best suits you. From sex and young love to WWII and suffragettes, there’s sure to be something for your style.

Popular titles include Mariana by Monica Dickens and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, a story of governess and a nightclub singer in the 1930s that “feels closer to a Fred Astaire film than anyone else’ remarks Henrietta Twycross-Martin, the individual who found Miss Pettigrew for Persephone books, according to their website.

There’s also the opportunity to join their Reading Club that meets on the first Wednesday of each month for cheese, madeira and fun discussion.

So whenever you desire, take a break and treat yourself one spring morning to a walk to Camden, a good read from Persephone and perhaps even a yummy brunch at the café next door.

Location: 59 Lamb’s Conduit St., London WC1B 3NB

Nearest Tube: Russell Square

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