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.