Verso (meaning in printers' parlance 'the lefthand page') was founded in 1970 by the London-based New Left Review, a journal of left-wing theory with a worldwide readership of 40,000. The company remains independent to this day.
The company's head office is located in London, where a staff of twelve produces a program of 60 new titles each year.
Originally trading as New Left Books, the company developed an early reputation as a translator of classic works of European literature and politics by authors such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Walter Benjamin, Louis Althusser, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Ernest Mandel and Max Weber. More recent translations include the work of Giovanni Arrighi, Norberto Bobbio, Guy Debord, Giles Deleuze, Che Guevara, Carlo Ginzburg, Andre Gorz, Jürgen Habermas, Gabriel García Marquez and Paul Virilio.
Commissioning intelligent, critical works located at the intersection of the academic and trade markets, Verso's list of writers in English has come to include many key authors in the social sciences and humanities, with particular strength in politics, cultural studies, history, philosophy, sociology and literary criticism. Such writers include Tariq Ali, Benedict Anderson, Perry Anderson, Michèle Barrett, Robin Blackburn, Terry Eagleton, Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall, Eric Hobsbawm, Victor Kiernan, Steven Lukes, E.P. Thompson and Raymond Williams.
From early on in its life, the company retained US rights and has added to its imports a range of distinguished North American-based writers. Editors located on both East and West coasts have signed authors including Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Marc Cooper, Mike Davis, Juan Gonzalez, Christopher Hitchens, Frederic Jameson, Andrew Kopkind, Lewis Lapham, Manning Marable, David Roediger, Andrew Ross, Edward Said and Michele Wallace.
North America today comprises 65% of the company's worldwide sales. In the spring of 1995 Verso opened an office in New York. Primarily handling marketing and publicity work, our American office now has a staff of four.
Verso's success has been marked by several prizes. In 1990 the company received The Carey Thomas Award, presented by Publishers' Weekly to 'celebrate creative publishing at its best in all aspects of the process, from excellence in editorial judgement, through overall publishing philosophy, to imaginative design, promotion and marketing.' In 1991 the company won first prize in the London Sunday Times' Small Publisher of the Year Award. In 1992, Rigoberta Menchú, whose autobiography is Verso's best-selling title, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Verso stands today as a publisher combining editorial intelligence, elegant production and marketing flair. Having quadrupled in size over the past decade, the company will continue its progress towards the mainstream of the industry without compromising its radical commitment.