Letter: An early mentor for a vulnerable project

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The Independent Online
Sir: Forgive the lateness of this comment on Natasha Walter's celebration of Virago ('Still maligned, still loved, still needed', 19 June) which I read with agreement and a certain personal interest.

In 1975 I joined the staff of the Literature Department of the Arts Council of Great Britain. One of my responsibilities was to receive applications from writers and publishers for financial grants from the Council and to present these to the literature panel for review and judgement.

Soon after my arrival on the staff of the department, Ursula Owen called at my office to suggest such an application on behalf of Virago; an application that I duly presented to the literature panel at its next meeting, with, I may say, more pleasure and willingness than I felt on behalf of many other such requests. The application was received with enthusiasm by the panel and the grant readily agreed.

The Arts Council receives so many brickbats that I wanted to put on record the fact that it supported an unconventional publishing project with promptness and so helped the survival of Virago in its early and vulnerable days.

Yours faithfully,


Richmond, Surrey

29 June