Kate Charlesworth is a cartoonist and illustrator living and working in Edinburgh, originally from Barnsley, South Yorkshire. After art college in Manchester she began work as a freelance illustrator in London where, along with David Shenton – as cartoonists accidentally documented L&G – she was part of (as it was then known) the ‘golden age’ of Gay publishing.
Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, books, indie comics, exhibitions and electronic media and she has drawn storyboards for Hot Animation and Aardman Animations. In 2014 she collaborated with Mary and Bryan Talbot – 2012 Costa biography winners for their graphic novel Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes – to illustrate Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, published by Jonathan Cape.
Her graphic memoir, Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide is out now.
Interviews and Features
Books for Pride 2020 - a Foyles selection
‘To say that 2020 has been a rough ride so far would be an understatement, and while there is no avoiding the need for continued social distancing, we can still celebrate Pride this month from the comfort of home. For this year we’ll have to leave the glitter cannons and find others way to celebrate, rather than parades or large celebrations, and there is still plenty of joy, community and comfort to be found within the pages of the books featured within the selections below.’
Plain Tales From the Bars by Kate Charlesworth
Kate Charlesworth, author of Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide has been cheering up the masses by sharing archived comic strips, starting with ‘Plain Tales From the Bars’. To see more, head to her Facebook page.
Hannah Berry, UK Comic Laureate on Sensible Footwear
‘The immediacy and intimacy that you get from reading a comic is unparalleled. A recent favourite of mine is Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth, which grants a vivid insight into life as a lesbian during the shifting socio-political climate in the UK since the 50s – a story both vital, angry and uplifting and somehow largely unreported.’
Hannah Berry, UK Comic Laureate, argues for comics and their ability to be complex and unique. Read the full article over on i News.
Best Graphic Nonfiction 2019: Billionaires and Sensible Footwear
Billionaires by Darryl Cunningham and Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide by Kate Charlesworth have both won Best Graphic Nonfiction 2019 by Andy Oliver for Broken Frontier. The list includes Best Webcomic, Best Graphic Novel, Best Publisher and a handful more. Have a look through Andy’s top picks HERE.
Best of the Year 2019 according to Joe Gordon
On Billionaires: “Essential reading for our modern world, delivered in Darryl’s usual exemplary style which makes even the most complex ideas comprehensible. ”
On Sensible Footwear: “This is just a wonderfully warm graphic memoir, beautifully drawn, emotionally rich and left me with a huge smile on my face after I’d finished reading it. ”
Don’t miss the full list up on Woolamaloo Gazette.
Broken Frontier: Exploring Sensible Footwear with Kate Charlesworth
BF: As someone that’s lived in London, grew up somewhat north of the capital and has also been long based in Scotland, how do the comic (and queer) scenes compare?
CHARLESWORTH: To be honest, a combination of decades working more or less in isolation, plus that generational thing hasn’t left me in the best place to properly comment. As a freelance cartoonist (and illustrator) I was on the indie fringes for years, and my involvement in comics has only increased over the last couple of decades. I know there’s a flourishing zine and comics scene here in Scotland, so I presume the same for London. And there’s Laydeez do Comics, who are terrific, not women-only, and not just London-centric.
I was in Finland a few weeks ago at the Helsinki Comics Festival with Myriad’s Corinne Pearlman. We loved it, but we were both blown away by the vibrancy and quality of the indie zine scene there. So many young women involved, too.
BBC Radio 5 Live: Top Five Nonfiction Books
‘As well as being a memoir of her life, the book is also a document of what has happened in queer history. One little tidbit I got from the book was that Calamity Jane was an undercover queer classic! The book makes you think of things much more politically. I, as a member of the queer community, had forgotten just how recent all the changes are, good and bad, and it was really good to be reminded of that in a non-preachy way.’
Intriguing The Guardian
‘The Portico prize for literature, named after the 200-year-old subscription library in Manchester, has been awarded every other year since 1985, for books and/or authors that embody “the spirit of the North”. It’s back this year… and the judges have chosen a delightfully eclectic longlist. I am most intrigued by Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide. A book on sturdy shoes to counter that harsh northern weather? No, it’s a very personal story by Kate Charlesworth of LGBTQ history since the 1950s, and was recently reviewed by this paper as its graphic novel of the month.’
The Portico Prize Longlist
Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide by Kate Charlesworth has just been longlisted for The Portico Prize. Described as ‘the Booker of the North’ The Portico Prize celebrates titles that best evoke the spirit of the North of England. Congratulations, Kate!
Hailed as 'Favourite Comic Right Now' by comic royalty...
Comic royalty, Bryan and Mary Talbot, chose Sensible Footwear when asked by Down the Tubes about their favourite comic right now. ‘Both Mary and I have absolutely no hesitation in nominating Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth’.
You heard them, time to get your copy!
The Observer Graphic Novel of the Month
‘Though Charlesworth seemingly leaves no stone unturned, from Tom Robinson to Brookside, from the Lesbian Avengers to Douglas Byng (whom she draws on an old cigarette card), her capacious book never feels wearying; it is an amazing, joyous panorama to which I could never do justice in a short review. Let me, then, just say this. Sensible Footwear is an instant classic: up there with Bryan Talbot’s Alice in Sunderland when it comes to pageant, and with Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home when it comes to pathos.’
Kate Charlesworth's post-launch party
Sensible Footwear post-Cartoon Museum launch party in London, hosted by the terrific Corinne Pearlman. An LGBTQI+ graphic memoir and absolutely amazing achievement of illustration and research, Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth is out now and definitely not one to miss. Photographs of the evening taken by Lisa Lee – peruse them all over on our Facebook page.
Kate Charlesworth at Glasgow Women's Library
To celebrate the launch of Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide, Kate Charlesworth had not just one but two fantastic launches. The first was at The Cartoon Museum in London, followed swiftly by a day event at Glasgow Women’s Library, pictured here.
Photographs by Becky Male. To see more, head to our Facebook page.
Kate Charlesworth's new graphic memoir in Page 45 Comic & Graphic Novel Reviews August 2019
What a superbly structured, brilliant but biting history and vital entertainment this is!
Shoes! Shoes! Sensible shoes!
You are hereby ever so warmly invited to walk a mile or twenty-six in somebody else’s – Kate Charlesworth’s and the growing LGBT+ community’s – in a personal insight, education and entertainment spanning 70 years from the 1950s onwards!
All education should be an entertainment and this one comes vibrant in colour, comedy and variety without a po face in sight:
“Yes, Cinders!” it proudly proclaims on its title page, “You shall go to the Rugmunchers’ Ball!”
It is laugh! It’s a riot! It is a genuine milestone. Read the full write-up HERE.
BBC Radio Scotland: The Afternoon Show with Kate Charlesworth
Listen again HERE.
The Artful: Queer Rights and Kate Charlesworth
‘Kate Charlesworth’s new book, Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide, has become “urgent”, as the prologue explains, because of the current rise of intolerance that is threatening the civil and human rights of historically marginalised groups. Charlesworth’s ethos is that we all deserve to know our history, and that without that knowledge we remain vulnerable to such histories repeating themselves.’
Brought to you via the team behind Ink Mag, The Artful #1: New Beginnings issue features an interview with Kate as well as an essay on queer rights, using Sensible Footwear as a jumping board into a discussion about sexuality, gender and injustice.
To receive The Artful newsletters, head to their website.
Cartoonist Kate Charlesworth on gay and lesbian life since the 1950's
‘Kate Charlesworth is one of the nation’s finest cartoonists. Over the years she has created comic strips for everyone from City Limits to Gay News, the Pink Paper to the Guardian and New Scientist. She has also spent the last four years working on her latest book, Sensible Footwear, a wonderfully colourful and candid book, full of Charlesworth’s crisp, clean, simple lines and her nuanced vision of human complexity.’ Teddy Jamieson interviews Kate for the Herald Scotland. Read the article in full HERE.
Comic of the Week on Broken Frontier
Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide by Kate Charlesworth was chosen as Comic of the Week on Broken Frontier, with Andy Oliver calling it ‘undoubtedly one of the most crucial graphic memoirs of the year’. Read the piece in full HERE.
Kate Charlesworth in DIVA Magazine
‘Not since Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home has there been such an important graphic memoir. A striking achievement in comic form, Sensible Footwear should be on everyone’s bookshelves’.
DIVA, Europe’s leading magazine for lesbian and bi women, dedicates three pages of their August 2019 issue to comic artist Kate Charlesworth and her newly-published graphic history of LGBTQI+ life from the 1950’s to the present day. Sensible Footwear also receives huge praise in a review by Erica Gillingham (pg 50). Buy the August issue NOW.
Lavender Menace Returns at Lighthouse, Edinburgh's Radical Bookshop
As part of Pride Week celebrations, Kate Charlesworth visited Lighthouse – Edinburgh’s radical bookshop to celebrate their Lavender Menace pop-up. Kate shared her soon-to-be-published memoir, Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide—the first graphic history documenting lesbian life from 20150 to the present day. The event sold out and the bookshop was packed to the rafters. To see where Kate will be taking Sensible Footwear next, head to our events page.
Stonewall 50 Exhibition at Europe House
To commemorate Stonewall 50, Europe House are hosting an exhibition of art taken from Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide by Kate Charlesworth. The opening night has been hailed as ‘marvellous, brilliantly attending and fantastic things said.’ If you want to see all 34 pieces of Kate’s work then head over to Europe House sharpish. Kate can be seen here (second from left) alongside Myriad’s Corinne Pearlman (far right).
2019 Queer Lit Preview with Turnaround
Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide previews on Turnaround’s blog as one of the top 2019 Queer Lit titles set to knock your socks off this year. ‘The curtains of lesbian history from the 1950s to the present day are opened by celebrated cartoonist Kate Charlesworth, with a little help from Gilbert and Sullivan and a side of Nancy Spain. Sensible Footwear is a glorious political and personal history that gives Pride a run for its money; but, like Pride, it wears its heart at the centre, making the invisible visible, and celebrating lesbian lives from the domestic to the diva.’
The Irish Times—50 books to keep you reading all year long
Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide featured in The Irish Times article, 50 books to keep you reading all year long.