Carmen Callil, pioneering champion of female writers, dies aged 84

‘I'm just not a collective, what-a-nice-book-you-want-me-to-publish, we're-all-sisters-under-the-skin kind of person' … Carmen Callil. Carmen Callil, the publisher and writer who championed female and transformed the canon of English literature, has died of leukemia in London on Monday aged 84. The news was confirmed by her agent. Callil began as a campaigning outsider, founding the feminist imprint Virago Press, she published contemporary bestsellers including Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou and Angela Carter. She challenged the male-dominated canon of English literature by bringing back into print a list of modern classics by authors including Antonia White, Willa Cather and Rebecca West, eventually becoming a pillar of the literary establishment. She was made a dame in 2017 , served as a member of the Booker prize committee and was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Born in Melbourne in 1938, Callil had a difficult childhood, which she later called her “purgatory”. She went to the same convent school as Germaine Greer – she described the atmosphere as “rules, censorship and silence, and above all a sense of disapproval waiting to pounce on those rare times when you felt most entirely yourself”. After studying at Melbourne University, she left Australia the week she graduated, arriving in London in 1960 to find it a “very closed and silent place”. “I came to the conclusion that I should never have come here,” she told the Guardian . “I should have stayed at home. Definitely. Or lived in France.” Callil's early in […]

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