Ursula Owen has been a significant figure in the worlds of literature and free expression since the 1970s. A founding director of Virago Press in 1974, later becoming Joint Managing Director, she worked with a committed team as the company rapidly developed an international reputation, rediscovering and repositioning women writers and, over two decades, transforming both the literary canon and the contemporary publishing world.
During the 1990s, Owen became a director of the Paul Hamlyn Fund, Cultural Policy Advisor to the Labour Party and Chief Executive of Index on Censorship. Yet behind these and other signal achievements lies the story of a refugee, a child who fled the Nazis, was educated at Putney High School, went up to Oxford, trained as a researcher in social services, travelled extensively, marrying, becoming a mother, and eventually separating. In this frank and compelling memoir, we discover an extraordinary life where culture prevails against the tumultuous conflicts of the twentieth-century, as well as the twenty-first.
‘The editor and publisher Ursula Owen has always considered herself an outsider. A very English German, a very Jewish Christian, a radical in a conservative world, a conservative in a radical world. Owen has often wanted to belong, to be quietly accepted. At the same time, part of her has always laughed, or scowled, in the face of convention.’ —Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian