I felt sure I was the first to have made this discovery and began a treasure hunt in local charity shops, second hand bookshops in Cornwall and London and internet swapping communities. I was under the impression that they were difficult to find (they were in Harlow!) and that I must be the only woman on earth who actually wanted them. Since moving to Cambridge I have found that I can no longer buy eeach one that I find as the Virago press was genuinely prolific, (Heffers even reprints the originals to add to its stock). I have to be a little more selective in my search now that I am a student.
A picture of a larger and more impressive collection, stolen from Fleur Fisher
For the University Library prize my collection requires a coherence and an intellectual strain of thought to support it. My collection is of the early originals, published in the 80's with portraits of women for their covers. My interest is both literary and artistic; the cover paints a portrait of the central character just as the books themselves are studies of the female voice which leads them, these novels are word- portraits.
Cover: 'The Bather' Kees van Dongen
'I wanted to live at the centre of a focus of pleasantness, and harmony, and things coming right. And instead I was tossing about in a whirlpool of useless passion and frenzy.' The Thinking Reed
Cover: 'Portrait of Ira P' Tamara de Lempicka
' "Hardly anyone is dancing," said Charlotte to the unknown man beside her, "yet whenever I put out my hand, I touch someone," But the stranger seemed not to have heard her.' Strangers
Tamara de Lempicka was an amazing painter during the 20's and 30's who had her own distinctive and feminine approach to Cubism. Working in Paris she was associated with Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Andre Gide. The portrait used for the cover of Strangers is a powerful portrait in red and white, between innocence and passion.
Cover: 'Catherine Carrington' Carrington
'I am forward-looking girl and don't stay where I am, "Left right, Be bright," as I said in my poem. That's on days when I am one big bounce, and have to go careful then not to be a nuisance. But later I get back to my own philosophical outlook that keeps us all kissable.' Novel on Yellow Paper
I just finished reading Stevie Smith's Novel on Yellow Paper for my London dissertation and I love her loose writing style. It is like a 'stream of consciousness' but with an innocence and enthusiasm to it that is completely independent of the fluidity of writers such as Virginia Woolf.
I won't pin all my hopes on that book collecting prize, but I think I have a story and a chance, so wish me luck.