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This article is taken from PN Review 58, Volume 14 Number 2, November - December 1987.

The Case of Rossiter's Rabbit: Gay publishing, poetry, and AIDS Neil Powell

To the outsider, which I am not, there must seem to be something very odd about sexually politicized literary publishing. It had, of course, its genesis in the 1960s before emerging in the arguably less appropriate climate of the 1970s, by which time the badge of freedom was already beginning to look as if it might turn out to be a ticket to the ghetto. For some, the whole phenomenon must have seemed simply unnecessary: since general literary publishers had always produced books by feminist, lesbian and gay writers - and sold them, what is more, to a general literary audience - was there really any need for publishing houses earnestly devoted to the business of preaching to the converted? If the answer to that question is 'Yes', it can only be because there was a significant body of excellent work which was not getting published, or which had been allowed to go out of print: a desperate situation requiring a desperate remedy.

This was where Virago, and a little later The Women's Press, came in - the former prudently building much of its reputation with a distinguished series of 'Modern Classics' which not only bolstered its literary credibility but also saved it the expense of typesetting entirely new books. Both these imprints, it is fair to add, are currently parts of larger publishing groups, and this has enabled them to maintain very high standards of production and to achieve an enviable comprehensiveness of distribution. They, and ...


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