Spinifex Press: Celebrating Radical Lesbian Publishing


Here at AfterEllen we’re big fans of independent, lesbian-owned media. Which is why we’d like to highlight the amazing work of Spinifex Press.

Spinifex was founded in March of 1991 by Susan Hawthorne and Renate Klein. The press began as a pushback to the cuts that threatened feminist and literary publishing during Australia’s recession. Susan and Renate started out with four titles. Since then, Spinifex has gone from strength to strength. They publish everything from fiction to poetry to political tracts.

Almost 30 years on, Spinifex Press has now published over 200 books. They’ve shared writing by some of the most relevant and necessary voices in the modern feminist movement. Among their authors are Robin Morgan, editor of the iconic Sisterhood is Powerful anthology, and Rachel Moran, an abolitionist campaigner. Other notable writers include Julie Bindel, Unity Dow, and Sheila Jeffreys.

It is no coincidence that Spinifex has ended up home to such a wide range of feminist and fiercely political books. To its founders, publishing is a political act as well as a creative one. They have made a conscious decision to amplify women’s voices and promote women’s interests. And this approach has earned Spinifex a loyal international following.

For a small press, books published by Spinifex cover an extraordinary range of themes: lesbian life, women’s health, ecofeminism, economics, prostitution and pornography, war, and male violence against women and girls. Their titles have made waves in the world.

A forward-thinking indie press, Spinifex Press quickly adapted to the digital age. They were the first publisher in Australia to offer a digital catalog of their books, and the third to have a full catalog available to buy on their website. And in 2006 Spinifex became the first Australian small press to offer ebooks through their website.

It would be fair to say that Susan and Renate are visionaries in their field. And yet, because their books are by and about women, Spinifex hasn’t always received the recognition it deserves. In 2015 the Spinifex Press founders won the George Robertson Award for their long-term service to publishing.