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How Virago blew up the canon

Long before the current debates about diversity in publishing, one house was putting women writers on the map

By Frances Wilson   April 2020

The new "Bite of the Apple" collection goes inside the history of Virago. Photo: Prospect composite

In 1987, the feminist publishing house Virago published a collection of stories featuring British Asian girls caught in the conflicting demands of home and school. The author of Down the Road, Worlds Away was a 38-year-old mother of two called Rahila Khan, whose fiction had already been aired on Radio 4. “With hard-eyed realism and poignant simplicity,” the book’s blurb read, “Rahila Khan brilliantly gives voice to uneasy youth.” Virago’s remit, as Lennie…

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