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.
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.
Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide has received many accolades since publication, awarded best graphic nonfiction by the Broken Frontier Awards 2019, longlisted for the Portico Prize in 2019 and shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020.
'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. Sensible Footwear engagingly documents decades of changes in the LGBTQ+ life.' Paul Gravett for The Bookseller,
'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.' Val McDermid
'Sensible Footwear is a stunning achievement - as a graphic study of LGBT history, and as a memoir of growing up gay in the 1950s onwards.
Kate's fluid and tellingly detailed drawing reveals not only the frustrations and traumas of lesbian life, but also the laughter and camaraderie... and a glorious cavalcade of gay icons.' Posy Simmonds;
'This book has been a highlight of my year. Sensible Footwear is a real achievement and something I'll definitely keep going back to.' Turnaround 2019 Graphic Novels Staff Picks;
'This... personal history of British LGBTQ life leaves no stone unturned. 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. It's hard to imagine a reader who wouldn't enjoy it.' The Observer Graphic Novel of the Month;
'What a superbly structured, brilliant but biting history and vital entertainment this is! It is laugh! It's a riot! It is a genuine milestone.' Page 45 ;
'Sensible Footwear encourages the reader by example to think of possibilities for behaviour and community outside of the bounds of what already exists. The parity of rights across genders and sexualities is necessary to protect people from discrimination based on their preferences but... offering the right for anyone to get married, for example, does not pare down the dominance of the insitution of heterosexuality. Instead, it invites people outside the institution to subscribe to its ideal as it continues to reign supreme.' Steff Humm, The Artful;
'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.' Erica Gilingham, DIVA magazine;
'A wonderfully colourful and candid book, full of Charlesworth's crisp, clean, simple lines and her nuanced vision of human complexity.' Teddy Jamieson, Herald Scotland;
'It is a triumph to cram so much of our complex history in picture form and will I think make it a very important book that will inspire people to find out more. The history pages are fascinating and I learnt new stories and was reminded of old stories and issues I had forgotten.' Sue Sanders, LGBT History Month UK;
'Newsworthy, covetable and will become a classic.' Adele Patrick, Glasgow Women's Library