In memory of the great Carmen Callil, we are replaying the first of her two appearances on Backlisted. Joining Andy and John in this episode is Carmen Callil, the legendary publisher and writer, who is best know for founding the Virago Press in 1972. Once described by the Guardian as ‘part-Lebanese, part-Irish and wholly Australian’, Carmen settled in London in 1964 advertising herself in The Times as ‘Australian, B.A. wants job in book publishing’. After changing a generation’s taste through her publishing at Virago, and in particular the Virago Modern Classics, which continues to bring back into print hundreds of neglected women writers, Carmen went on to run Chatto & Windus and became a global Editor-at-Large for Random House. In 2006 she published Bad Faith: A History of Family & Fatherland, which Hilary Spurling called ‘a work of phenomenally thorough, generous and humane scholarship’. Appointed DBE in 2017, she was also awarded the Benson Medal in the same year, awarded to mark ‘meritorious works in poetry, fiction, history and belles-lettres’. The book under discussion is one of her favourite novels, The Tortoise & the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins, first published by Gollancz in 1954 and triumphantly reissued by Virago Modern Classics in 1983. Also in this episode we explore the new audio version of one our favourite writer’s best novels – The Unfortunates by B.S. Johnson, famously published in a box containing 27 randomly ordered sections in 1969. And last but very much not least: this episode also features our very first canine guest – Effie, Carmen’s extremely well-behaved border terrier.
Timings: (may differ due to variable advert length)
8’10 – The Unfortunates by B.S.Johnson
21’16 – The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins
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