Persephone Books and Campbell and Collier

21 December 2012

There is a little gem of a book shop tucked away in a little London recess.

Persephone Books prints mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women.  (which gives me a sneaky suspicion that they will appeal to the textile sisterhood).  According to their blurb "the titles are chosen to appeal to busy women who rarely have time to spend in ever-larger bookshops and who would like to have access to a list of books designed to be neither too literary nor too commercial. The books are guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget."

Now that may be reason enough to pay them a visit (literally of virtually - depending on where you are) but another reason that they may appeal is because of the way that they are presented.

Again - let me quote from their website.

"With their distinctive plain grey jackets and cream ‘labels’ for the title wording, all our books look the same from the outside.

Inside, each is different, with the endpapers chosen especially to match the date and mood of the book.

Fabrics are as much a part of our daily lives as furnishing and dress materials, yet we rarely see them used in any other context. However, fabric design should be celebrated for its own sake; and because it is a field in which women designers have been particularly prominent we would like to use their work whenever possible."

And they have recently published the 'Persephone Book of Short Stories' with end papers by Collier and Campbell.  The latest edition of their lovely newsletter includes a fabulous article about Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell, and I discovered that at our East Dulwich house we had curtains made from Kasak fabric designed by Collier and Campbell for Liberty in 1977.  We bought the fabric from Liberty but it was in a sale (I think it was a second) and in those days I had not heard of Collier and Campbell.  Who knew that we had a bit of design history in our living room?

In writing this blog I have found that Collier and Campbell are still going, although in 2011 Susan Collier sadly died.   Apparently the company was acquired by a lady called Judy Lever, a long-term friend of Susan and Sarah, who had built up Blooming Marvellous, the maternity and childrenswear business.  So their designs live on.  Which on the one hand is lovely, but on the other hand we need to encourage the next generation of textile designers, so my feelings are a bit mixed! 


  1. Hi there, Don't you just love Persephone books? And the shop is magical. My favourite ( so far) is "Family Roundabout" by Richmal Crompton.

    Thanks for the comment about the baubles.

  2. I have certainly fallen in love with Persephone books. How many have I bought so far? Don't ask!

    Made the trip to the shop there recently and although it was pouring with rain, the strolled thought the lovely lane with all the little boutique shops was delightful.

  3. I have often been tempted by Persephone Books, and finally plan to buy the collection you mentioned. It was the Collier Campbell pattern which finally made the difference.

    I have been an admirer of Collier Campbell designs for many years, although the present patterns do not appeal to me quite as much. Commercial tastes move on, but I always love going back to stay with my friend whose house is almost completely furnished in CC from the 70s. Bliss.

    1. I think that under the new ownership Collier and Campbell seem to have lost their way slightly. Not sure why, just a wee bit off.

      I love the idea of a house furnished in CC from the 70s. That has to be a magazine feature!


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