Many of these community publishers existed to provide an outlet for writing by those whose voices and stories were often unheard within mainstream publishing due to biases and prejudices of gender, ethnicity, age or class. These publishers provided a space for subjective writing from direct, lived experience.
In John Berger’s obituary for Glenn Thompson, one of the founders that set up the bookshop and cultural meeting point Centerprise, in Dalston, he stated: “literacy was more than the capacity to read, it was the capacity to lay claim to a legitimate inheritance”. Although written specifically about Thompson, this statement underpins much of the ethos of the community publishing movement.
Many of the community publishers generated writing via workshops, often held within bookshops or other community centres that also offered playgroups and cafes. The works produced are direct, are relatively uncensored and in their very existence and their means of production defy attempts at exclusion. These works challenge who has the authority, the right, to an authorial voice.
Here are just a few examples of the many community publishers represented within Senate House Library’s collections: