Marie Duval

Edited by SIMON GRENNAN, ROGER SABIN and JULIAN WAITE
£19.99 Buy now Recommend

MARIE DUVAL (1847–1890) was a groundbreaking Victorian female cartoonist whose wide range of work, depicting an urban, often working class milieu, has been largely forgotten. This is a book for pleasure: the first to celebrate her life and work.

What did it mean to be a woman working in the man’s world of cartooning? Marie Duval was a unique, pioneering, innovative, and highly entertaining visual journalist, cartoonist, and illustrator whose work appeared in serial magazines and books at a time when the identity of the artist, in Victorian England, was in radical flux. Both a stage actress as well as an artist, Duval was uniquely placed to take advantage of the first appearance of a mass leisure culture by contributing to the weekly magazines that combined current affairs and theatrics with a focus on urban life.

The work of Marie Duval confounds one of our most commonplace ideas of the Victorian era—that women were not supposed to create or even to participate in public life and certainly not meant to be either comic or professional. Her comic strips were not only pioneering in terms of what we have come to call ‘comics,’ but present a vernacular comedy that frequently undercuts and supercedes the work of her male contemporaries.

This entertaining visual account of the work of Duval explores key aspects of Victorian mass leisure industry, such as tourism, day-tripping, fashion, the theatre, art and the ‘season.’ Placing Duval in the visual context of the emerging profession of visual journalism, it offers an enticing glimpse of the exciting, strange and world-changing media environment of London in the last part of the nineteenth century.

John Freeman, Down the Tubes

6 February 2018
I can definitely recommend this title for anyone curious not just about the work of women in comics but the origins of comics as we now know them in Britain, too. This is a book for pleasure, the first to celebrate [Marie Duval's] life and work in any major way, and it’s a wonderful collection of early cartoons that documents this little-known creator’s work – astonishingly, all created in a 15-year period. Combining fascinating insight with honest and appraisal, we’re treated to an extraordinary journey into the world of late Victorian humour, compiled by Simon GreenanRoger Sabin and Julian Waite. For me, this new book succeeds in offering an insight into what it meant to be a woman working in the man’s world of cartooning in the late nineteenth century – no easy task, given how little is known of Duval (there is no known image of her), and the subsequent erasure of her involvement in the creation of characters such as Ally Sloper by male-dominated publishers after her untimely early death. This overview of her life is long overdue. Offering a positively glorious visual account of the work of Duval as she struggled and succeeded in creating a new urban visual culture, we’re also treated to an enticing glimpse of the exciting, strange and world-changing media environment of London in the last part of the nineteenth century.
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Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

27 October 2014
‘One of the forgotten wonders of 19th-century art. Her drawings have something in common with Honoré Daumier, but also look forward almost uncannily to modern comics in their fantastical surreal wit.’
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