Monday, 24 August 2009

Virago Spines

As you can see from this slightly blurry picture of my TBR VMC shelf a few weeks ago, there are four sorts of Virago Modern Classic spines. At first in my collecting, I merely looked for green covers, but now I am trying to become a bit more discerning as I have noticed the three different sorts of green cover editions (and it is nice to have the same author with matching spines I feel where possible).

In the centre of the picture are the original green spines, I seem to have mostly these at the moment. They are so very distinctive and make it easy to spot a VMC from twenty paces on entering a secondhand book shop.

To the left of these original green spines are the next ones, which are characterised by italicised type for the title and the move of the apple from the top to the bottom.

To the left of these are the last green editions. The apple has moved back to the top of the spine and the green is much brighter. Some of these are still available "new" in bookshops; mine mostly arrived through an order I did recently from

Finally, on the right hand side of the picture are the most recent Virago Modern Classic editions which don't have green spines at all. I'm not quite sure when Virago decided to stop using their green, or quite why. I do like these new editions as they are very attractive as new books, and probably much more appealing in a bookshop to people who aren't accustomed to buying VMCs. I'm not sure if they are collectable in the same way, I don't think I would seek these out in a second hand bookshop, and they would also be more difficult to spot!

If you collect VMCs are you influenced by the different spines? Are you not fussed at all by the different editions? Or are you like me, predominantly concerned with obtaining the book to read, but secretly wishing to have uniform sets of books?


  1. Sigh, I don't know where I stand! As my green shelf post yesterday alluded, I need to cull the collection and curb further collecting. I think I'll be happy with whichever Virago spines I can find from now on, providing it's a book that I want to read and the copy is in good condition! For the most part I do prefer new books so the modern Viragoes may win out but we shall see...

  2. I agree the green spines are easily spotted in bookshops and I tend to seek them out. Since I live in the US, I have also learned to spot black Dial Press editions, which usually have the same cover art so they aren't a bad second choice (but why black for heaven's sake?) I understand (from LT VMC aficionado mrspenny) that the modern designs were introduced c. 2003-04. I have a few of these -- one was a gift, the others were by happenstance and I wouldn't mind finding a green edition of them someday.

    But meanwhile, I have another 400 or so to collect! Hence I'm *shocked* by PBR's comment, "I need to cull the collection and curb further collecting." I think we need to have a talk ...

  3. Laura, I know, I am a bad Virago collector! You can read my blog post dated yesterday for my reasoning but I am suffering a bad case of book-buying guilt coupled with TBR intimidation, which are making me a little off-green!

  4. I usually look for the green spines as I like the uniformity of my VMC shelf. I would have to agree with Laura though that here in the US I really take what I can get. It's exciting to see any Virago, no matter what the spine looks like. VMCs mostly available here are the Penguin and Dial Press editions which I would think are not as collectible as the UK editions (?). Anyhow it's wonderful to see them so I usually get them all and think about it later. The folks at the counter just give me looks...they have no idea!

  5. I like that idea Danielle - get them all and think about it later!

    Claire - I am feeling intimidated by my VMC TBR shelf...

    Laura - me too - actually, probably nearer 450 still to get!

  6. I'm a hardcore original green spine collector. I love that design and typeface and won't buy a Virago unless it's in that format. Fussy, moi???!

  7. Rachel - but what about VMCs which haven't been published in Green spines - e.g. the Barbara Pyms...

  8. I love the original Viragos and was a little disappointed when I ordered a copy of The Weather in the Streets and it had the second type of cover you describe. I feel that is rather neurotic of me, but I can't help it. (Happily, my partner understands and shares my needs for nice 'sets'.) Verity raises an interesting question -- I first read Dusty Answer from the library and then started to buy her books. I honestly don't know what to do about getting a copy for myself, as I understand there is no green Dusty Answer.

    Anyway, like leaningtowardthesun I live in the US and feel pretty lucky to get what I can find.

    Thanks for the lovely blog, verity! I don't have anyone who understands the passion for Viragos specifically.

  9. Rhiannon - thanks for calling in. Do pop back as there are lots of visitors who share the VMC love! I have a new edition of Dusty Answer.

  10. I love Virago books and try to collect as many as I think I might one day read. I much prefer the old style green covers, don't mind the middle sort, and tolerate the new ones on the grounds I want to read the books. My biggest problem is how to keep them, I like the green ones altogether, so hate when I have to get the same auther from a different publishing house.