Jeanette Winterson burns her own books in protest at ‘cosy little blurbs’

British novelist says republished works were presented as ‘wimmins fiction of the worst kind’

The author Jeanette Winterson has set fire to a pile of her newly republished books after saying she “hated the cosy little domestic blurbs” on them.

In a tweet on Friday night, the author defiantly wrote: “Absolutely hated the cosy little domestic blurbs on my new covers. Turned me into wimmins fiction of the worst kind! Nothing playful or strange or the ahead of time stuff that’s in there. So I set them on fire.”

With work exploring love, gender and sexual identity, Winterson wrote her first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, in 1985 at 23 and has since published more than a dozen books.

The burned books were: The Passion, her 1987 novel set in Napoleonic Europe; 1992’s Written on the Body; 1995’s Art and Lies; and The Powerbook from 2000. In a statement to the Guardian, Winterson said: “Each of those books was doing something different at the time, both with form and content.

“The Passion was both a way of reimagining the historical novel and it had a cross dressed narrator. Written on the Body had a non-binary narrator. The Powerbook was an early virtual and blended reality experience, that bent time as well as gender. The blurbs had none of this and turned the books into the tame and the obvious. A friend said, ‘God, you sound like Mills & Boon!’

“The publishers are fixing the problem but these are not copies I want to keep. I gave most of them away to charity but needed a symbolic burning to raise my spirits. I am the writer I am. But I wouldn’t buy one of my books with those suburban blurbs.

“I am quick tempered as people know. But I come back down pretty quick too and see the funny side. I was incandescent at the time.”

Her 1989 novel Sexing the Cherry was another that had been republished, but that “was totally fine”.

Winterson was awarded an OBE in 2006 for her services to literature and is a professor of new writing at the University of Manchester.

Penguin has been contacted for a comment.


Edna Mohamed

The GuardianTramp

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