In honour of both International Women’s Day (Thursday 8th March), and the centenary of women’s right to vote, the publishing house Penguin will be opening a pop-up bookshop that will stock works by over 240 female writers, including Kate Atkinson, Anne Frank, Jacqueline Wilson and Simone de Beauvoir.
It’s an initiative that they’ve described as a celebration of the ‘way that women contribute, often under the radar, to every facet of society’ and recognises female figures who have ‘made a difference or fought for change’ in such areas as politics, art, science, sports and culture.
The shop, which is called ‘Like A Woman’, will open on East London’s trendy Rivington Street from 5th-9th March. And instead of classic bookshop categorising, the titles will be organised in a new browsing system, ‘by impact the author has had on culture, history or society’. Categories will include ‘essential feminist reads’, ‘inspiring young readers’ and ‘women to watch’, among others. Shoppers will also have the chance to purchase books to be donated to Solace Women’s Aid, a charity providing practical and emotional support to over 11,000 survivors of domestic violence in London each year.
‘Like A Woman’ will also be offering a full itinerary of events and talks alongside shelves heaving with the very best in female literature, with such participants as Booker-Prize shortlisted writer Deborah Levy included in an evening of essays and stories from the female perspective, while food writer Melissa Hemsley will present a live recording of the Live.Life.Better podcast with Holly Branson.
Author Natasha Bell, who will be reading an extract from her new book Exhibit Alexandra on Thursday 8 March, thinks it’s a brilliant idea. ‘What better way to mark International Women’s Day than by celebrating the women who feed our imaginations and nurture our souls?’ she says. ‘From Jane Austen to Chris Kraus, female authors have taught me about love, loss, families, friends, heartbreak and happiness. I’ve returned to them again and again, each time trying to understand a little more about how strange, complex, brilliant and frustrating it is to be a woman.’
And if you can’t make it down to the shop in person, you can follow all the action online and on social media by following the hashtag #LikeAWoman.
Find ‘Like a Woman’ at 1-3 Rivington Street EC2A, March 5-9.
Feature by Miranda Thompson