Announcing the Modern Library Torchbearers Series

By Allan Spencer | July 8 2019 | Humanities & Social Sciences

We are pleased to present the new Modern Library Torchbearers series, created to honor a more inclusive vision of classic books by recognizing women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance.

“The collection started with our desire to use the Modern Library as a platform to call out excellent but largely—and unjustly—forgotten books, especially those that may have been overlooked because of institutional or genre-based bias,” said Mika Kasuga, editor for the series, and editor and publishing manager at Modern Library and Random House.

The titles selected for inclusion in the series challenge popular conceptions of the literary canon and shine light on authors and works that have historically been overlooked or underappreciated. Each is introduced by a contemporary woman writer and features cover art designed by women working in Random House’s design department.

The following titles in the series are now available:

  • American Indian Stories by Zitkála-Sá, with an introduction by Layli Long Soldier
  • The Heads of Cerberus by Francis Stevens, with an introduction by Naomi Alderman
  • Passing by Nella Larsen, with an introduction by Kaitlyn Greenidge
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin, with an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado
  • Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, with an introduction by Flynn Berry
  • Villette by Charlotte Brontë, with an introduction by Weike Wang

Three more titles in the Modern Library Torchbearers series will be released on September 10:

  • The Transformation of Philip Jettan by Georgette Heyer, with an introduction by Sarah MacLean
  • The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton, with an introduction by Jia Tolentino
  • Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Triptych by Marie Vieux-Chauvet and translated by Rose-Myriam Rejouis and Val Vinokur, with an introduction by Edwidge Danticat


The Heads of Cerberus
978-1-9848-5420-9
A rediscovered classic of science fiction, set in a dystopian twenty-second-century society where the winner takes all, written by the genre's first major female writer and predating The Hunger Games by nearly a century.
$15.00 US
May 21, 2019
Paperback
224 Pages
Modern Library

Passing
978-0-375-75813-3
First published to critical acclaim in 1929, Passing firmly established Nella Larsen's prominence among women writers of the Harlem Renaissance. The Modern Library is proud to present Passing—an electrifying story of two women who cross the color line in 1920s New York—together with a new Introduction by the Obie Award- winning playwright and novelist Ntozake Shange.
$14.00 US
May 28, 2002
Paperback
192 Pages
Modern Library

The Awakening
A Novel
978-1-9848-5436-0
A new edition of Kate Chopin’s controversial masterpiece, an essential novel in the canon of early feminism—with an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado, award-winning author of Her Body and Other Parties.
$8.00 US
Jun 18, 2019
Paperback
240 Pages
Modern Library


Villette
978-0-375-75850-8
"Villette! Villette! Have you read it?" exclaimed George Eliot when Charlotte Brontë's final novel appeared in 1853. "It is a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre. There is something almost preternatural in its power."
$14.00 US
Oct 09, 2001
Paperback
624 Pages
Modern Library

The Transformation of Philip Jettan
978-0-593-13308-8
A sparkling, witty novel about love and the limited appeal of a stereotypical "manly man"--the perfect piece of escapist literature from the founder of Regency romance, featuring an introduction by New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean.
$15.00 US
Sep 10, 2019
Paperback
192 Pages
Modern Library

The Custom of the Country
978-0-375-75807-2
Highly acclaimed at its publication in 1913, The Custom of the Country is a cutting commentary on America’s nouveaux riches, their upward-yearning aspirations and their eventual downfalls. Through her heroine, the beautiful and ruthless Undine Spragg, a spoiled heiress who looks to her next materialistic triumph as her latest conquest throws himself at her feet, Edith Wharton presents a startling, satiric vision of social behavior in all its greedy glory. As Undine moves from America’s heartland to Manhattan, and then to Paris, Wharton’s critical eye leaves no social class unscathed.
$15.00 US
Oct 09, 2001
Paperback
416 Pages
Modern Library

Love, Anger, Madness
A Haitian Triptych
978-0-8129-7692-2
The only English translation of "a masterpiece" (The Nation)--a stunning trilogy of novellas about the soul-crushing cost of life under a violent Haitian dictatorship, featuring an introduction by Edwidge Danticat.
$18.00 US
Mar 30, 2010
Paperback
432 Pages
Modern Library