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A Bookshop of One’s Own: How a group of women set out to change the world

By Jane Cholmeley

The captivating true story of an underdog business – a feminist bookshop founded in Thatcher’s Britain – from a woman at the heart of the women’s liberation movement.

What was it like to start a feminist bookshop, in an industry dominated by men’? How could a lesbian thrive in Thatcher’s time, with the government legislating to restrict her rights? How do you run a business when your real aim is to change the world?

Silver Moon was the dream of three women – a bookshop with the mission to promote the work of female writers and create a much-needed safe space for any woman. Founded in 1980s London against a backdrop of homophobia and misogyny, it was a testament to the power of community, growing into Europe’s biggest women’s bookshop and hosting a constellation of literary stars from Margaret Atwood and Maya Angelou to Angela Carter. While contending with day-to-day struggles common to other booksellers, plus the additional burdens of misogyny and the occasional hate crime, Jane Cholmeley and her booksellers created a thriving business. But they also played a crucial and relatively unsung part in one the biggest social movements of our time.

A Bookshop of One’s Own is a fascinating slice of social history from the heart of the women’s liberation movement, from a true feminist and lesbian icon. Written with heart and humour, it reveals the struggle and joy that comes with starting an underdog business, while being a celebration of the power women have to change the narrative when they are the ones holding the pen.

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 29 Feb 2024
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0-00-865104-6
Price: £16.99 (Export Price) , £16.99, €None
Jane Cholmeley is a key figure in the history of British feminism. She co-founded Silver Moon Women’s Bookshop, which became the largest of its kind in Europe and a vibrant centre of women’s writing, hosting prestigious events with authors such as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Jeanette Winterson and Margaret Atwood. Sandi Toksvig nominated Jane Cholmeley as a Gay Icon in the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition of that name in 2009 and Jacqueline Wilson named Jane her feminist icon in Stylist, 2018.

”'[Jane] has always taken a back seat, but I think it’s time that younger women knew what a part she played in making the feminist movement, and also the role of women in society in general, a talking point… I can’t go down the Charing Cross Road now without a little feeling of regret for where the bookshop used to be.” - - Jacqueline Wilson

”'A vivid and wonderful evocation of the feminist bookshop on Charing Cross Road that was a home to so many of us. A story both of the shop itself and those inspiring women's liberation movement campaigning days of the 1980s, it's a slice of social history and a much-needed reminder of how women always have to fight for space - to get it, and to keep it. Bravo 'Silver Moon', you are much missed.” - Kate Mosse

”'Silver Moon was the place where literature fed my life. Bookshops are always places of power; Silver Moon was a place of pilgrimage. I still dream of making my way there” - Sandi Toksvig