On Saturday I attended the second States of Independence event at De Montfort University in Leicester. This is an independent publishing event, with readings and talks as well as stalls from a selection of magazines and publishers. What interested me most on the programme was a talk by Dr. Deirdre O’Byrne at the Irish independent publishers in the 1980s, focusing in particular on the feminist press, Attic.
The press effectively came out of feminist advisory services, which were (as you might expect) rather risque in the conservative social climate. They published a number of groundbreaking texts, including prose, poetry, critical studies, women’s histories, guidebooks and much more besides. Deirdre brought along a number of books from her own collection, which all in all make for a good day out for the Irish studies bibliophile.
While the press did publish some Northern Irish related books, I can’t find much evidence that they had quite so much impact up North and they did in the Republic. There are a number of reasons for this, of which the most obvious is that feminism simply didn’t flower to the same extent due to the Troubles. This is covered well by Rebecca Pelan in Two Irelands: Literary Feminisms North and South.