Heroes, Interviews, Publishing, Women's Writing

Publishing with Unbound, an Interview with Emilia Leese

Finding a home for your book can be difficult, especially if you want readers to have that old-school sensory thrill of riffling through pages and inhaling that new-ink smell. For an author, one of life’s gnarliest challenges is convincing a publisher that your idea will fly. 

Unbound is a new publishing platform that gives authors a chance to prove their projects are economically viable. Using the power of social media and crowdfunding, an author is able to collect readers’ pledges in advance of publication. When and if enough pledges are received, the traditional publishing process kicks in and the author can relax  while Unbound edits, produces and distributes the book.

Emi 1
Author Emilia Leese

It sounds beautifully straightforward and simple, but is it really? I decided to talk to Unbound author Emilia Leese to find out. She and Eva Charalambides are the co-authors of Think Like a Vegan: What Everyone Can Learn from Vegan Ethics (learn more here).  They have successfully funded the book and are now waiting to see it printed. Emilia kindly agreed to answer a few questions that may be helpful for other authors seeking a new and exciting publishing avenue.

How did you decide to choose Unbound as a publisher for Think Like a Vegan? Had you tried others beforehand, or was this the first one you were drawn to?

I had heard of Unbound from Cerys Matthews during her show on BBC Radio Six Music one morning and the concept sounded brilliant, but we didn’t contact them immediately because we thought we should go with small, specialty presses first.

Initially, we contacted various other small presses. We were in discussions with two. One told us they had no time to market our book and insisted on a title they believed would make the book sell itself. We believed the title the press preferred was not enticing and didn’t convey what the book was about. Plus they sent us a contract that just didn’t work, neither for them nor us. In fact, I spent several hours fixing it for them (I’m a corporate finance lawyer, so contracts are kinda my thing). I wonder if they’ll use that form now?! The second press was keen, but didn’t communicate effectively and we were left hanging many times over. Who needs that?

When we contacted Unbound, they were enthusiastic, keen, incredible communicators and were interested in working with us, including in helping us craft a great title. So, we decided that although we were going to have to do a lot of work to have a successful campaign, it would be worth it. The small presses were going to do very little in terms of marketing. So, it was a matter of us putting a lot of work up front, while still retaining creative control. And with Unbound, it also was a much more collaborative environment because they were vested in our having a successful crowdfunding campaign as much as we were. With a level field in terms of interests, then creativity on both sides can soar and benefit the project as a whole. 

What sort of information should authors include in their pitches? For example, what do think persuaded Unbound that Think Like a Vegan was a project they’d like to support? 

The pitch for Unbound was very much like all the other pitches in terms of content. But their focus is on authors identifying their audience. And frankly, that’s a good thing to do no matter what publisher one approaches or even if there’s no publisher. Really thinking about your audience and who would buy your work is something critical for writers and for anyone trying to get their work or product to market. 

Knowing that the crowdfunding was all up to you, what were your strategies and resources? Did Unbound provide any advice or support at this stage? 

Unbound held a crowdfunding workshop where they explained the process, gave examples of what works and doesn’t. They have a marketing manager who was in contact with us often and to whom we could consult for advice throughout the process. The data to which authors have access to monitor their campaign is also pretty detailed and interesting. So you felt in control and simultaneously very much supported.

In terms of strategies, I had had experience with crowdfunding in the context of a small business, but also in the corporate finance sphere. The goals and strategies are more or less the same. The quantum changes, of course, alongside the risks. But the aims are the same. Our strategy was to hit the ground running when the campaign launched publicly. We built up momentum by personally contacting friends and family first, building a base, and then launching to the public. We mined all our contacts and tried to keep in touch with the public through social media in an engaging way, and by being ourselves. Unbound also has its own marketing channels, including a subscriber newsletter and social media. In fact, their newsletter is how a BBC producer found out about the book and invited us to be on BBC World News just before Christmas (you can watch the interview here)

How much time and effort, more or less, did you put into the crowdfunding campaign?

A lot. It was a full time job practically. 

What did you learn from the Unbound crowdfunding experience?

The incredible kindness and generosity of people. That is the biggest and best takeaway from this experience. Eva and I were moved to tears just about daily from the outpouring of support, kind words, generosity and encouragement. And sometimes from the most unexpected places. 

I loved the fact that, starting from quite a small amount, pledgors were guaranteed to receive a copy of the book. And then with higher pledges they were eligible to receive the book in different formats and fantastic prizes related to the theme of your book, for example personal video-conferenced consultations on veganism, or a ticket to a vegan Burns Night supper, or a chef-cooked Italian vegan meal. Did pledgors take you up on these offers? How did it go?

The minimum was £10 for an e-book, so yes, I suppose that’s more or less $10 USD. And every pledgor will have their name printed in the Supporter list at the back of the book. The rewards we offered maximized our presence and skills. There’s a couple of reasons for that. First, who needs one more tote bag? People don’t need or want things, they want experiences. So how could we weave our skills into this endeavor? Second, the costs associated with rewards we provided were low, meaning more of the pledge would go to the funding pot. If a reward would cost £X to make, then the pledge would only provide amount minus £X to the pot. So, we got creative.

Yes, pledgors took us up on these rewards. The Burns Night Supper was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, we postponed the next supper club – a very special Ithailian (Italian-Thai) fusion, supper club we were meant to be hosting in early April. And we expect the other rewards will be claimed in due course.   

basket-of-fruits-and-vegetables

At what stage in the process did Unbound offer you a contract? 

Only once the crowdfunding campaign hits 100% does Unbound offer a contract. 

Where is the book now? Do you have an estimated time for publishing? 

We are now in the early stages of editing. And have been told the book will come out in May 2021. 

Would you do it again? If so, what might you do differently? 

Yes, I suppose so. But with some distance so I can recover from the effort. I don’t think I would do anything differently, actually. 

For people who didn’t contribute to funding but who would like to read your book, are there ways they can purchase it?

Yes. Anyone can still support and pre-order the book now from the Unbound site. Once the book is published, it will be available everywhere books are sold, including your local bookshop, the Unbound website, Amazon and so on. 

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Publishing, Translated fiction, Uncategorized

21 Approachable Publishers of Literary Fiction & Translation

If there’s one group of people who have already perfected the art of ‘social distancing’, it’s publishers. Like the endangered Ribbon-tailed Astrapias of Papua New Guinea, a publisher would much prefer isolation foraging in its native jungle habitat than having to deal with unknown authors. Writers, in their view, are the moral equivalent of blood-sucking poachers who will wring their necks and wear their beaks as nose rings.  

 

 

After a week of trawling through inhospitable websites/jungles, I’ve noticed some patterns in this avoidant behavior. The biggest publishers don’t even bother mentioning submissions. When they see you coming, they fly to the highest tree top where you have no way of reaching them without abseiling equipment and a flight suit. Mid-level publishers can’t quite reach those tranquil heights so they use a different strategy; they lead you away from the nest with a series of clever feints. First, they make you to scroll to the bottom of the home page to find a ‘contact us’ link (in the tiniest possible font size, in the faintest feasible color). Once you’ve clicked that link, you scroll to the bottom of the contacts page, down, down, down past all the people the publisher would rather to talk to: readers, booksellers, publicity professionals, lawyers, undertakers… finally, at the bottom of that page you will see a message addressed to you: “RarissimaAvis does not accept unsolicited submissions. Any unsolicited manuscripts, proposals or query letters that we receive will not be returned, and RarissimaAvis is not responsible for any materials submitted,” which is publishing legalese for ‘Bog off bumface’. But then there are the smaller, more sociable niche publishers—the litter-inhabiting wrens—who provide detailed submissions requirements, with the caveat that they only have five staff and millions of manuscripts coming in every minute and can only publish half a book a year and please don’t fax or email them and also they can’t reply to anyone and can’t really justify the cost of reading a single paragraph of your blather.

Such is the sorry state of affairs, and no wonder writers are sad.

 

200px-Edgar_Allan_Poe,_circa_1849,_restored,_squared_off

 

Ordinarily, self-publishing seems like a better bet. If I were looking to publish my own work, I’d skip the middle man and toddle over to Smashwords, where my memoir about Saudi living Teacher, We Girls! is simmering along nicely with more than 50 sales! However, at the moment I’m sitting on a hot bet—a translation the Sizzlingest Socialist Comedy of the Decade—and feel that if only I can get close enough to one of these secretive publishing birds I should be able to lure it off its branch long enough to gmake friends and let me into its special flock.

To wit, here are 20 of the less-shy publishers of literary fiction and translation. This list is not just for writers and translators, either, but readers who want to find a source of literature in translation. I was a little shocked to learn recently that translation is only 3% of annual publishing in the USA. Considering how quickly a virus can travel around the world, it seems a shame that the riches of global literature are still so inaccessible.

 

1. And Other Stories 

Est.:  2009

Who they are: A crowd-funded publisher of contemporary writing.

What they want: Literary fiction; translations of fiction of the past 40 years; narrative non-fiction.

Where they are:  Sheffield

Books: Endland by Tim Etchells, The Taiga Syndrome by Christina Rivera Garza (translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana) and Proleterka by Fleur Jaeggy (translated by Alistair McEwen) 

How to submit: Details here.

Notes: They provide Ros Schwartz’s excellent guidelines for translators submitting a book proposal.

 

2. Arcade Publishing  

Est.  2010

What they want: Fiction and literary nonfiction

Where they are:  North America

Star books: The Imaginary Girlfriend by John Irving , Thine is the Kingdom by Abilio Estévez and The Good Works of Ayela Linde: A Novel in Stories by Charlotte Forbes

How to submit: Detailed instructions here

Notes: They promise to respond, if interested, within the lightning fast time of 4-6 weeks.

 

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3. Archipelago Books   

Est.  2003

What they want:  Translations of contemporary and classic world literature.

Where they are: Brooklyn, NY

Books: A Kitchen in the Corner of the House by Ambai (C.S. Lakshmi) translated from Tamil by Lakshmi Holmström, The Flying Creatures of Fra. Angelico by Antonio Tabucchi translated from Italian by Tim Parks and Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga translated from French by Melanie Mauthner.

How to submit: Send a query to info@archipelagobooks.org .

Notes:  To be honest, I’m not 100% sure they’re accepting unsolicited submissions but I like their stuff so decided to mention them anyway.

 

ambai

 

4. Arsenal Pulp Press  

What they want: literary fiction, works in translation and lots of other genres including cookbooks.

Where they are:  Vancouver, Canada

Books: The Walking Boy by Lydia Kwa, There Has to Be a Knife by Adnan Khan and Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

How to submit: Details here.

Notes:  They accept submissions by snail mail only and try to respond within 6 months

 

5. Atlas Press   

Est.: 1983

What they want: ‘Anti-tradition’ literature that embraces experiment and dissent

Where they are: The UK

Books: Aurora by Michel Leiris, The Punishments of Hell by Robert Desnos translated by Natasha Lehrer and Chris Allen (verse) and The Sixth Sense by Konrad Bayer

How to submit: editor@atlaspress.co.uk 

Note:  They do not publish previously unknown authors but are open to suggestions for translations of well known works in other languages. The backlist is very niche–you’d basically have to be a furry cup to fit in. 

 

The_White_Tiger

 

6. Atlantic Books

Est.: 2000

What they want: Novels, extensive partials [whatever they are] or short stories

Where they are: Bloomsbury

Books: White Tiger by Aravid Adiga, Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas, Consensual Hex by Amanda Harlowe, Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

How to submit: fictionsubmissions@atlantic-books.co.uk

Notes: Powerful publicity machine! 

 

 

7. Biblioasis 

What they want: Fiction originally in English or translated into it, non-fiction, poetry

Where they are:  Windsor, Ontario in Canada

Books: Granma 19 and the Soviet’s Secret by Ondjaki and translated from Portuguese by Stephen Henighan, Madame Victoria by Catherine Leroux and He Wants by Alison Moore.

How to submit: contact info@biblioasis.com but read the guidelines first 

 

ondjaki 

 

8. Coach House Books  

Est.: 1965

What they want:  poetry, literary fiction, drama and select nonfiction

Where they are: Ontario, Canada

Books: The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann translated by Jen Calleja, The Imago Stage by Karoline Georges translated by Rhonda Mullins and Splitsville by Howard Akler

How to submit: Details here 

Notes: A very small press that mainly publishes works about Canada or by Canadian authors because it is subsidized by Canada Council for the Arts.

 

9. Coffee House Press  

Est.: 1972

What they want: literary novels, full-length short story collections, poetry, creative nonfiction

Where they are:  Minneapolis, USA

Books: Indecency by Justin Phillip Reed, The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán translated by Sophie Hughes and Reinhardt’s Garden by Mark Haber

How to submit: Details here

Note: They don’t accept manuscripts ALL the time (Heaven forfend!) but occasionally conduct periodic reading sessions so follow them on social media to find out when the next one is.

 

reinhardt

 

10. Comma Press 

Est.: 2012

What they want: Short stories and fiction in translation by new and established authors

Where they are: Manchester, UK

Books: The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim, Palestine +100 [a collection of science fiction

short stories by Palestinian authors] and The Sea Cloak & Other Stories  by Nayrouz Qarmout translated by Perween Richards.

How to submit: It will be 18 months before they start considering single-author collections again, but you can enter their competitions or anthologies in the meantime. Contact sarah.cleave@commapress.co.uk for questions.

Notes: They are especially interested in translations from smaller regional and minority languages.

 

sea cloak

 

11. Dedalus Books 

Est.: 1983

What they want: Translations of European literature, especially the bizarre or surreal mixed with intellectual fiction

Where they are: Cambridgeshire, UK

Books: The Dedalus Book of Polish Fantasy edited by Wiesiek Powaga, The Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin and Days of Anger by Sylvie Germain.

How to submit: They prefer submissions by post: “3 sample chapters, a letter about the author and SAE if anything is to be returned.”

Notes: They publish 1-3 books per year. Email info@dedalusbooks.com with questions.

 

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Sylvie Germaine

 

 

12. Deep Vellum Publishing  

What they want: contemporary fiction, narrative nonfiction, poetry, translations.

Where they are: Dallas, Texas, USA

Books: El poemario del colibrí The Hummingbird Poems by Edyka Chilomé , Girls Lost by Jessica Schiefauer translated by Saskia Vogel and Life Went On Anyway by Oleg Sentsov 

How to submit: apply to Will Evans will@deepvellum.org

Notes: They especially want writers from Texas or writing about Texas.

 

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Oleg Sentsov

 

13. Dzanc 

Est.: 2006

What they want: daring (wait, no, not THAT daring!) literary fiction

Where they are: Detroit, Michigan, USA

Books: Darkansas by Jarret Middleton, The Australian by Emma Smith-Stevens and Like a Woman by Deb Busman. 

How to submit: Submit using their ‘submittable’ form for submissions. For questions please contact michelle@dzancbooks.org

Notes: In 2019 Dzanc cancelled publication of The Siege of Tel Aviv by Hesh Kestin after allegations that it was Islamophobic.

 

14. Feminist Press  

Est.: 1970

What they want:  fiction, nonfiction

Where they are: New York

Books: Arid Dreams by Duanwad Pimwana translated by Mui Poopoksakul,  Fiebre Tropical by Juli Delgado Lopera and Mars by Asja Bakiç translated by Jennifer Zoble

How to submit: Details here.They prefer digital proposals in pdf. format and only look at completed manuscripts.

Notes: Founded by Florence Howe, a leader of the modern feminist movement.

 

mars

 

15. Guernica  

Est.: 1978

What they want: Literary fiction and translations

Where they are: Ontario, Canada

Books: Lucia’s Eyes and Other Stories by Marina Sonkina, Sex Therapy by Mary Melfi and Itzel I: A Tlatelolco Awakening by Sarah Xerar Murphy 

How to submit: Email queries or manuscripts to michaelmirolla@guernicaeditions.com. They only accept ms submissions between January 1 and April 30.

Note: It may take 6-8 months to get a response.

 

16. Knopf   

Est.: 1915

What they want: Literary fiction, translated fiction

Where they are: New York, New York, New York

Books: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips, Exhalation by Ted Chiang and Weather by Jenny Offil. 

How to submit: Knopf usually only accepts mss from agents. You might have a snowball’s chance on a chilly day in Hell, though, so why not try? Just send 25-50 pages and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to THE EDITORS/Knopf/1745 Broadway/New York/NY 10019.

Notes: It will take them a year to get back to you, IF AT ALL.

 

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It’s got cake in it.

 

17. New Vessel Press  

Est.: 2012

What they want: Literary translations, fiction, narrative nonfiction

Where they are: New York

Books: I Belong to Vienna by Anna Goldenberg translated by Alta L. Price  Sleepless Night by Margriet de Moor translated by David Doherty and What’s Left of the Night by Ersi Sotiropoulos

How to submit: info@newvesselpress.com

 

18. Open Letter  

What they want: Contemporary literature (for adults) from around the world that is unique and that ‘will have a significant impact on world literary conversation’.

Where they are: Rochester, New York, USA

Books: The Brahmadells by Jóanes Nielson translated from Faroese by Kerri A. Pierce, The Smoke of Distant Fires by Eduardo Chirinos and To Hell with Cronjé by Ingrid Winterbach.

How to submit: Details here; complete manuscripts are preferred.

Notes: This is University of Rochester’s literary translation press. It publishes 10 books per year. Their website is called Three Percent because only 3% of all books published in the USA per year are literary translations. SAD FACE

 

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19. PM Press 

Est.: 2007

What they want: Books by radical authors and activists.

Where they are: Oakland, CA, USA

Books: A City Made of Words by Paul Park, Fire by Elizabeth Hand and The Man who Killed Durruti by Pedro de Paz 

How to submit: Use this formatting guide, follow their careful directions here and then send to submissions@pmpress.org. Wait 2+ months.

Notes: They are more or less booked for two years, but will still might possibly have a look at some new stuff, though it’s not bloody likely.

 

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Best book of 2019 from PM Press!

 

20. Seven Stories Press 

Est.: 1995

What they want: political guff, fiction, poetry

Where they are: New York, NY

Books: Babylon by Yasmina Reza,  They Hanged by Saintly Billy by Robert Graves and Darwin’s Ghosts by Ariel Dorfman 

How to submit: Send a cover letter and 2 chapters to Acquisitions/Seven Stories Press/140 Watts Street/New York, NY 10013/USA

 

cuban
It’s got a parrot.

 

21. The Unnamed Press  

Est.:  2014

What they want: Literature from around the world

Where they are: Los Angeles

Books: Vagablonde by Anna Dorn, The Cuban Comedy by Pablo Medina and  Mother of All Pigs by Malu Halasa 

How to submit: Send your work to info@unnamedpress.com

 

pigs

Heroes, Publishing, Women's Writing

Christine de Pizan’s Books for Bucks

My niece Emily started school this week, and it’s got me thinking how much I take reading and writing for granted now. At Emily’s age, I found writing very difficult and have a vivid memory of repeatedly failing to spell ‘the’, Mrs. Bartlett’s face purpling prettily with each fresh failure. This isn’t Emily’s first step towards literacy; her parents and sister have encouraged a love of reading since she was a baby. In fact, her play sessions, in which she identifies as a ‘jewel thief’ suggest the influence of G.K. Chesterton. Her choice of birthday cake was reminiscent of Baudelaire’s ‘L’albatros’. 

It is strange to think that, had Emily been born in fourteenth-century Europe, books would not have been part of her life. Literacy was not a universal even among men, but for girls it was extremely rare. Reading and writing was the preserve of clergy, merchants and some aristocrats. Authors were usually male (despite exceptions like Trotula of Salerno [12th century] and Hildegarde von Bingen [1098-1179]). Women were supposed to produce children and manage a household. Those who could read, like Catherine of Siena and Hildegarde, were considered so weird that their literacy was a miraculous sign of their holiness. Considering all this, the life and writing career of Christine de Pizan (1364-1430) is a remarkable anomaly and surprisingly little known outside of Gender-Studies departments.

 

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Hildegarde von B. with book

 

Christine was born in Venice, daughter of Thomas de Pizan, a physician, court astrologer and Councillor of the Republic of Venice. Alessandro Barbero, in his lecture on her life, stresses that astrology at that time was considered a respectable science, inseparable from astronomy. It was accepted fact that heavenly bodies affected earthly bodies, and that by careful observation of the stars and moon it was possible to divine many things, including the propitious date for starting a war or embarking on a journey. Thomas de Pizan’s expertise was so valued that Charles V of France hired him to become court astrologer. The household moved to Paris when Christine was about five years old.

Thomas de Pizan was an unusual father in that he provided his daughter with a good education and encouraged her to read. She soon developed a love of books that would eventually enable her to earn a living, not to mention great fame. It didn’t hurt that she lived in the cultural and commercial heart of Europe, either. Paris was stimulating to her imagination—she talks of seeing a tightrope walker walk between two towers of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and a diplomatic visit from the Sultan of Egypt—a spectacle of exoticism that attracted a huge crowd.

While her father encouraged her love of books, her mother regarded them eccentric distractions. At the age of fifteen she was married off to Etienne du Castel, a secretary to the king and started the busy life of having babies and organizing a household. This left her little time to devote to reading.

 

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“Wheee!”

 

A recurring theme of medieval literature is the Wheel of Fortune, embodied by the goddess Fortuna, often represented by a blindfolded woman spinning a wheel. The idea is that one’s life can be drastically and suddenly altered, usually for the worse, and there is not really anything you can do about it. It wasn’t a new idea–Tyche or ‘Fate’ was a capricious goddess in ancient Greece associated with uncertainty and risk. However, Boethius (480-524) refreshed the idea for Christian audience in his Consolations of Philosophy:

“I know the manifold deceits of that monstrous lady, Fortune; in particular her fawning friendship with those she intends to cheat, until the moment when she unexpectedly abandons them, and leaves them in agony beyond endurance.”

In 1388, Fortune spun the wheel, giving Christina’s husband the plague and leaving her a widow at the age of 25. The young mother was now solely in charge of her family, including her mother. On top of this, she had the task of trying to collect the backlog of wages owed her husband—many years’ worth. Despite her assiduous requests, she didn’t receive them until two decades after his death.

Christine de Pizan had a dream at about the time. She and her family were in a ship that was suddenly caught in a storm. Her husband was thrown from the ship and disappeared in the water. She dreamed she cried herself to sleep and, in a dream-within-a-dream, she was approached and touched by Fortuna. Waking on the ship, her dream-self noticed that her body has changed—her limbs were stronger, her voice was deeper—she had become a man. Now, instead of crying, she picked up a hammer and got to work fixing the ship.

 

surviving-medieval-shipwreck

 

The bereaved widow started writing poems, love ballads, not only to assuage her grief but also to capitalize on her unusual gift. She shared her poetry with the people she knew at court, dedicating many of them to members of the royal family such as Isabeau of Bavaria. Her friends and patrons encouraged her to write more on a greater variety of topics. Finally, in 1404 she gained a commission from one of the most powerful men in France, the Duke of Burgundy, who asked her to write a biography of his brother Charles V of France. In return, he offered a bag of gold francs.

This was the first of many commissions—in the next seven years she wrote fifteen works for members of the aristocracy in return for pay. She had become a professional writer.

 

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Presenting the book to Queen Isabeau

 

In his lecture, Alessandro Barbero has a nice passage about her book-production methods. These days you don’t need anything more than a computer and an internet connection to publish a book (cue shamless ad for my book Teacher, We Girls!), but things were a bit more complicated in the fourteenth century:

 

“…what does it mean to write and to publish a book? We are at the beginning of the fifteenth century. She became famous in 1399, when her ballads went into circulation. And for the 1400s, she is a very successful writer. What does it mean to for a successful writer to publish a book? There is no printing press. So everything is done by hand so that publishing a book means you the author present your book to your client, to the king, to the Pope, to the cardinal, to the duke. There is only one copy at first. If someone else wants it, then it can be copied. If the book is a success then a lot of copies will be made. But at first there is one example. It is luxurious. The greater the personage you are presenting it to, the more you have to pay for it, the more luxurious the object will be. Christina does not limit herself to writing her works, but she produces the manuscript, not alone, naturally, she has a workshop. She hires some professional copyists, she hires some miniature artists, among which is one woman [known only as ‘Anastasia’] and she is the producer of the work of art that is each manuscript.”

 

She even includes a little trademark ‘author pic’ in each book, an illustration of herself. Sometimes she is writing, other times presenting the book to the dignitary who will receive the book, other times she is in her studio reading. Every time she is recognizable in the same dress, with the same hairstyle.

 

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Reading to an appreciative audience

 

Her books included political treatises, epistles and poetry. She wrote several ‘mirrors for princes’—a genre instructing nobles in correct moral behavior. She infamously wrote literary criticism in Le Dit de la Rose (The Tale of the Rose) (1402), a sharp attack on the misogyny of the incredibly popular work Roman de la Rose (1275). This was followed by two more works that treat the role of women in society: The City of Ladies (c. 1405) and The Treasure of the City of Ladies (1405).

 

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Building her City of Ladies

 

In 1407, Fortuna spun the wheel again and France was plunged into civil war marked by assassinations, revolts and massacre. The problem was (as usual) a succession dispute—the Armagnacs supported the line of Charles VI and his son; their rivals the Burgundians supported Henry V. Accordingly, Christina turned her quill to martial affairs. She wrote a manual of war Livre des fais d’armes et de chevalerie (1410), which was translated into English in 1489 as The Book of Feats and Chivalry. In her last major work, Livre de la paix (1413) The Book of Peace., she directly addresses the Dauphin Louis of Guyenne encouraging him to continue in his quest for peace for France.

 

Harley 4605 f.3

 

Taking advantage of infighting in France, Henry V sailed into the estuary of the Seine in August 1415. The Hundred Years’ War https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/Hundred_Years.html  was on again, and on October 25 1415 had one of England’s big victories of the war at the Battle of Agincourt. In 1418, Christine de Pizan, a fierce French patriot, wrote a consolation for women who had lost family in the battle in her Epistre de la vie Humaine (Letter Concerning the Prison of Human Life).

Since Paris was occupied by the English at this time, it is believed that she spent her last decade in the Dominican monastery of Poissy. She stopped publishing—probably because she was now away from the court and book-production staff and equipment. However, she briefly broke her silence after Joan of Arc’s remarkable victory over the English at Orléans in April 1429 with Ditié de Jehanne d’Arc (1429). It is supposed that she died before Joan’s execution in 1430. 

 

Jeanne d'Arc
Miniature from between 1450-1500