We don't own a beautiful bookshop in Bloomsbury, but if we did, it would probably look a lot like the one on our homepage; flowers tumbling down from the upstairs windows, an old bike propped up outside and stacks and stacks of lovely books inside. Except our bookshop is a little different from most; all the books in our bookshop are about artists. Actually, they're all about female artists. Why? Because if you walk in to the best bookshop you know and head to the art section, you'll only find a handful of books about art made by women. Which doesn't seem quite right, does it? So to try to balance the bookshelves, we started Eiderdown Books. Here you'll only find books by and about women artists.
Harriet and Tim, founders of Eiderdown Books
What's with the name?
Well, it's a lovely story actually. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin... The Eider duck is a beautiful wild sea bird which inhabits parts of northern Europe. It's a protected species on the Farne Islands (since St. Cuthbert decreed their protection there in 676 AD) and it's the county emblem of Northumberland (in England). But we digress. What's really interesting about these birds is that back in Victorian times, it became popular to start taking the feathers - which the female ducks had plucked from their own breasts in order to line their nests - and stuff these little downy bits of fluffiness into a quilt, to then be stuffed into a Victorian bedroom. History tells us our sisters suffered a similar fate. It's our ambition to release these feathers from their quilts and uncover those female artists who have been hidden in plain sight. Hence, Eiderdown Books.
But what about the people behind the books?
Harriet founded the publishing house in 2018 (the centenary year of women's partial suffrage in Britain) along with her partner (now husband) Tim. They have two children who are incredulous that neither Harriet nor Tim's names actually appear on the books themselves. Instead, on the covers of our books are the names of writers, curators, art historians and cultural commentators who are some of the most interesting women working in Britain today; they really know their stuff. The books themselves have been designed by leading female book designers, and we've used fonts designed by women too (more about that here). Our series editor is a woman, so is our editor, so is our publicity agent (who you can contact here). So we're all women (apart from Tim, and Orlando who did magical things to make this website work).
Can I come and visit the shop?
Ah. Unfortunately not. Not because we wouldn't welcome you with open arms. But (*whispers*) because it doesn't really exist. We exist, and so do our beautiful books, but the shop doesn't. However, you can still order your books directly from us here, or you can go in to your local bookshop and demand they order copies of our books to fill their otherwise male artist-lined shelves. We'd be really happy with either. (If you are a bookshop who wants more female artists on your shelves, get in touch with our distributor ).
1. Our bookshop illustration was designed by the wonderful Eliza Fricker.
2. In 2012, the American artist Judy Chicago suggested only 2.7% of art books printed were about women.