The emergence of feminist publishing groups and bookstores through the 1970s and 1980s played a critical role both in advocating for, and supporting, the wide range of feminist writing that flourished during that same period. From what had been just a few books, magazines, and pamphlets in the early 1970s – mostly from Europe and the United States – there emerged whole libraries of fiction, history, theory, poetry, children’s books, periodicals and more, all written by and about women, and reflecting diverse branches of feminist thought and engagement.
Those involved with nurturing these feminist bookstores and publishers were clearly feminist activists. Their work demanded difficult conversations about control, access, voice, and agency. It required grappling with complex issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality, among others. Often operated as collectives and non-profits and relying heavily on volunteers, being part of these groups also involved long hours of doing the hands-on work absolutely necessary to keep things going and growing.
Over these years too, as many documents in this section demonstrate, there emerged a network of feminist writers, periodicals, publishers, and bookstores that became part of an interconnected movement. This is reflected in the various conferences and workshops that brought these activists together from across Canada to listen to each other’s stories, confront fundamental issues of inclusion and voice, and share practical and no-nonsense advice on how to keep the lights on.