The radical readers

By Hermione Eyre
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The Independent Online

They went out to support the women of Greenham Common. Thirty-odd years later, they're still reading against the patriarchy.

"We only read books by women," explains Harriet Spicer, a founder of Virago Press and a long-term group member. "I did once manage to slide in a biography of Mary Wollstonecraft by Richard Holmes but the idea is to honour women writers by reading them. My daughter will say, 'Mum's getting all "votes for women" again,' but I do think there's work to be done."

No one can quite remember exactly when the group started. "Put it this way, one of the babies who attended in a straw basket is getting married this summer," says Spicer.

Members past and present include Julia Bard of the Jewish Socialists, Anna Barfield, who ran the women's desk at Compendium Books in Camden, and Margaret Lally, of The Owl bookshop in Kentish Town. Controversial reads over the years include Raising Children in the Goddess Tradition by the radical San Francisco feminist Starhawk.

Spicer sums up: "Our group works, so no one wants to change it. Everyone brings food without much consultation, and somehow we never end up with six pots of hummus... although, to tell the truth, there is always one pot of hummus."

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