Rosemary Rutherford (1912-72) pen and wash drawing of a VAD nurse c. 1941
Persephone Book No. 100 is The Persephone Book of Short Stories. The hundredth book is something of a landmark for us and we wanted to find a way to celebrate the diversity and range of ‘our’ writers. The best way to do so was by gathering together a varied collection of stories in one large (450 page) volume. We have printed the following comment on the flap: ‘“Most of the stories focus on the small, quiet or unspoken intricacies of human relationships rather than grand dramas” wrote our proofreader, and she pointed out that “the use of metaphor is delicate and subtle; often the women are strong and capable and the men less so; shallow and selfish motives are exposed, and all the stories except the last are third-person. Interesting!”’
The dates of the stories range from 1909 to 1986 and there are thirty in all, ten stories by existing Persephone short story writers, ten stories that have already appeared in the Biannually and therefore will be familiar to some, and ten stories that were completely new to us and are, we hope, new to our readers. The ten stories which are already in print in Persephone editions of their work are by Katherine Mansfield, Irène Némirovsky, Mollie Panter-Downes (twice), Elizabeth Berridge, Dorothy Whipple, Frances Towers, Margaret Bonham, Diana Gardner and Diana Athill. The ten stories which have already been published in the Quarterly and Biannually are by EM Delafield (author of Persephone Book No. 13 Consequences); Dorothy Parker; Dorothy Whipple (again); Edith Wharton; Phyllis Bentley; Dorothy Canfield Fisher (author of Persephone Book No. 7 The Homemaker); Norah Hoult (author of There Were No Windows, Persephone Book No. 59 ); Angelica Gibbs; Penelope Mortimer (author of Persephone Book No. 77 Daddy’s Gone A- Hunting); and Georgina Hammick. And lastly the ten stories which are new to us and possibly new to Persephone readers are by Susan Glaspell, Pauline Smith, Malachi Whitaker, Betty Miller (author of Farewell Leicester Square, Persephone Book No. 14), Helen Hull (author of Heat Lightning, Persephone Book No. 101), Kay Boyle, Shirley Jackson, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Elizabeth Spencer and Penelope Fitzgerald.
The front endpaper is taken from a roller-printed cotton twill designed in 1911 for Arnold Print Works and the endpaper at the back of the book is taken from 'Cote D'Azure', a 1983 screen-printed cotton by Collier Campbell.