About Serpent's Tail

Pete Ayrton founded Serpent’s Tail in 1986 in order to introduce British readers to risk-taking world literature no one else in the UK was publishing. The list quickly established a reputation for fearlessness, and for discovering an eclectic range of ground-breaking fiction and non-fiction, launching the careers of writers such as David Peace, Michel Houellebecq and Colm Tóibín and turning transgressive, dangerous books such as Catherine Millet’s The Sexual Life of Catherine M and Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin into bestsellers.

After two decades of total autonomy, in 2007 Serpent’s Tail joined the independent publisher Profile Books, where it continues as an imprint that celebrates originality. We publish books that we think matter, whether they are literary novels or crime fiction, works in translation or non-fiction books on contemporary culture and politics.

Over the years we have published winners of the Nobel and Orange prizes, Booker and Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlisted novels, and several bestsellers and classics. Thirty years on, our books are still lighting up our reader’s minds and opening spaces for them to think differently. 

City University Publishing MA Scholarship

Each year, Profile Books sponsors a City University, London Publishing MA Scholarship with mentoring from Profile MD Andrew Franklin. Applications for the 2016-2017 place are open now. Find out more