Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide

£17.99 Preorder Recommend

Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide will be a crucial cornerstone in building our future by making sure we remember our past. And Kate’s style—feisty, questioning, open, witty and sometimes angry—is the perfect vehicle to communicate that lived history of feminism, activism and liberation history in a uniquely accessible way. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.’—Val McDermid

Cartoonist Kate Charlesworth presents a glorious pageant of LGBTQI+ history, as she takes us on a PRIDE march past personal and political milestones from the 1950s to the present day. Peopled by a cast of gay icons such as Dusty Springfield, Billie Jean King, Dirk Bogarde and Alan Turing, and featuring key moments such as Stonewall, Gay Pride and Section 28, Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide, is the first graphic history documenting lesbian life from 1950 to the present. It is a stunning, personal, graphic memoir and a milestone itself in LGBTQI+ history.

In 1950, when Kate was born, male homosexuality carried a custodial sentence. But female homosexuality had never been an offence in the UK, effectively rendering lesbians even more invisible than they already were—often to themselves. Growing up in Yorkshire, the young Kate had to find role models wherever she could, in real life, books, film and TV.

Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide is a fascinating history of how post-war Britain transformed from a country hostile towards ‘queer’ lives to the LGBQTI+ universe of today, recording the political gains and challenges against a backdrop of personal experience: realising her own sexuality, coming out to her parents, embracing lesbian and gay culture, losing friends to AIDS. Kate’s ex-navy dad said to her: ‘You shouldn’t have told her, love… you should have just told me.’ But it turned out her mother might have known a bit more about life, too.

Paul Gravett for The Bookseller

24 October 2018
The often hidden history of lesbians in Britain from 1950 to the present comes alive through the vivid re-creations of acclaimed cartoonist Kate Charlesworth. In sensitive wash illustrations, she evokes formative experiences of growing up in the North and the gradual realisation that she was 'different'. Isolated and invisible, Charlesworth sought out role models in Dusty Springfield and Billie Jean King and devised icons of her own through her comic-strip characters. Sensible Footwear engagingly documents decades of changes in the LGBTQ+ life.

Val McDermid

I’ve been familiar with Kate Charlesworth’s work since her pioneering cartoons in Gay News in the 1970s. At the time, the lives and concerns of lesbians were far less visible than those of gay men, and to see Kate’s representations of our experiences made us feel less insignificant as well as providing an opportunity to laugh at ourselves. There was a real sense of inclusivity and immediacy in her work then and that has continued to be a feature of her art. If we don’t write our history down, the next generation are cut adrift from the journey that lies behind their present lives. Without a sense of where they have come from and how far they have come, they are vulnerable to losing the advances they have made. A Girl’s Guide to Sensible Footwear will be a crucial cornerstone in building our future by making sure we remember our past. And Kate’s style – feisty, questioning, open, witty and sometimes angry – is the perfect vehicle to communicate that lived history of feminism, activism and liberation history in a uniquely accessible way. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

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