Modeled after Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s iconic Hogarth Press, Tenley Circle Press (TCP) is a micro-publishing house based in Washington, D.C., which has since 2005 produced smart, handsome, entertaining books for children and their adult reading companions thirsty for books addressing healthful, ethical, wholesome themes.
All TCP books are produced in the DC/MD/VA region through a symbiotic process, with all participants – writers, illustrators, editors, designers, and printers – helping one another across disciplines and sharing strong health, safety, and environmental policies.
TCP is an active organizational member and supporter of The Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C. and The Friends of Tenley-Friendship Library (D.C. Public Library).
TCP coaches writers, provides consulting and editing services to aspiring writers, and houses a small adult book imprint, Still Point Books. These services enable TCP to fulfill its core mission of supporting children’s literacy, wellness, and equity with donations to likeminded nonprofits. TCP gifts books directly to children through schools, community centers, and libraries.
I’m obsessed with everything about books. I read and re-read them, dream about them, spend crazy amounts of my time and retirement money on them, write and edit them, design them, hoard them, sell them, and eagerly give them away to others.
I’ve been a bibliophile for as long as I can remember. When my mother saw that at four years old I could read, she inveigled Edna Curtis, the librarian of the Squantum branch of The Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy, Massachusetts, to bend the rules and issue me my own library card. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Curtis “hired” me as a library page, a job I proudly held throughout elementary school and then during high school at the Newton (MA) Free Library.
Since childhood, my dream job was to make my living working with great books and kids like me, so for decades I enjoyed a happy career as a language-arts teacher surrounded by teenagers. Soon after retiring from my classroom in the spring of 2002, I started on a long-awaited project of writing a novel, Correspondence Course: The Bathsua Project, a historical novel about two bibliophiles separated by three centuries and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of that novel, published in 2014, is set in The Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building, where I spent many luscious hours researching, reading, writing, and editing.
Early in that project I discovered Hermione Lee’s magisterial biography of Virginia Woolf and read and re-read its chapter about Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s co-founding and operating the Hogarth Press. I imagined Virginia poring over her sister Vanessa’s cover art at breakfast, writing and revising all morning, setting type and running the press all afternoon, cajoling friends at tea to submit manuscripts, and looking over Leonard’s shoulder before bedtime while he did the finances. The Woolfs became my role models. During one walking conversation about them around our DC neighborhood near Tenley Circle, I convinced my husband Peter to join me in founding and operating Tenley Circle Press. Since that wintry neighborhood walk, my Woolf-inspired faith in the written word and the wholesomeness of work hasn’t wavered. Leonard and Virginia taught me to view even the odious facets of the book business, like keeping financial records and even filing taxes (!), as acts of community building, wellness, and love.
Now, mid-way through TCP’s second decade, I still love my work here. Despite its challenges for this wobbly amateur businesswoman, TCP has been a joyful enterprise. Together with a crackerjack circle of imaginative, talented writers, illustrators, graphic designers, and printers, Peter and I have birthed and sent out into the hands of children and other eager readers a healthy family of books, learned radically new skills and whopping amounts about an ancient and ever-changing industry, shared what we’ve learned with other writers and booklovers, and made a widening circle of treasured friends. I’ve been buoyed during TCP’s lifetime by working to meet its goals and challenges, knowing that good, beautiful books are lifelines for those who make, read, and treasure them.
Many thanks to all who have supported TCP over its lifetime.
Since 2008 j.a. creative has enhanced Tenley Circle Press books with compelling artwork, design, and layout. A woman-owned and award-winning marketing firm, j.a. creative has also enhanced TCP’s online presence with a redesigned logo and website. Based within the DC beltway in Northern Virginia, j.a. creative provides strategic marketing and creative services for businesses, non-profits, and associations.