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Early women workers at the Hogarth Press (c.1917–25)

Wilson, N. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4843-840X and Southworth, H. (2020) Early women workers at the Hogarth Press (c.1917–25). In: Women in Print, vol 2 production, distribution and consumption. Peter Lang. (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

This chapter examines the role of some of the early women workers who worked in the print and publishing trade alongside Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press (1917-25). We know a lot about Virginia Woolf’s work as writer and typesetter of early Hogarth Press books, but generally less about the women the Press employed who worked in the Woolfs’ orbit as typesetters, secretaries, managers, typists and travellers. The chapter argues that the work of employees including Marjorie Thomson Joad, Aline Birch, and Barbara Hepworth is crucial to understanding the role and activities of the Hogarth Press as it moved from its Bloomsbury origins towards a wider public and worldwide geographical distribution, functioning – as Ursula McTaggart has put it – as “a site of labor and power as well as one of dialogue”. The Woolfs’ assistants and employees at the Hogarth Press were an interesting mix across gender and class lines, mirroring in some ways the kind of hybrid modernist publishers that the Hogarth Press became. The Woolfs’ first two assistant compositors, Alix Sargant-Florence and Barbara Bagenal, were literary associates and both successively walked out after the Woolfs offered only cursory training on typesetting. But, as employers, the Woolfs also sustained much longer relationships, and the small, self-owned press they operated enabled some women – like for instance Marjorie Thomson Joad (a key case study in this chapter) to leave one of the professions (teaching) for work in the printing and publishing trade. The work of these other women who laboured alongside the Woolfs has not often been recognised or considered in histories of the Hogarth Press, or as part of the story of the Woolfs as publishers and printers. Grounded in a methodology of feminist recovery, the chapter argues that appreciating better these womens’ work and contributions assists us in shifting our image of the Hogarth Press from that mythic idea of a small, coterie, Bloomsbury handpress – to the global, commercially successful publishing firm that it became.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing (CBCP)
ID Code:94806
Publisher:Peter Lang

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