Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide

Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide

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...

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Title:Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide
Author:Kate Charlesworth
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide Reviews

  • Kate

    This is an fucking incredible, exhaustive, dazzling history of LGBT life in england and its coverage of recent history blew me away. I always knew there were things I wasnt aware of about my history as a gay woman, but I never knew there was so much! This is vital reading. Theres no other way to put it. Funny, inclusive, beautiful, affectionate and so full of love it might burst. I loved this book.

  • Erica G

    From my review in DIVA magazine, August 2019:

    ‘Kate Charlesworth succeeds in inducing a cheeky smile with the title of her graphic memoir, Sensible Shoes, but it’s so much more than a lesbian in-joke; the book is a chronicle of an incredible life interwoven with the monumental changes the LGBTQI community has borne over the last 70 years. A cartoonist and self-proclaimed ‘dyke about town’, Charlesworth depicts different stages of her life from childhood to coming out to her flourishing adulthood.

    From my review in DIVA magazine, August 2019:

    ‘Kate Charlesworth succeeds in inducing a cheeky smile with the title of her graphic memoir, Sensible Shoes, but it’s so much more than a lesbian in-joke; the book is a chronicle of an incredible life interwoven with the monumental changes the LGBTQI community has borne over the last 70 years. A cartoonist and self-proclaimed ‘dyke about town’, Charlesworth depicts different stages of her life from childhood to coming out to her flourishing adulthood. Interspersed with the personal, she includes colourful spreads of the political: major moments of history retold in five year increments from 1950-2019, often highlighting lesser-known British figures along the way. Not since Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home has there been such an important graphic memoir, especially for younger generations. A striking and heart-warming achievement in the comics form, Sensible Shoes should be on everyone’s bookshelves.’

  • L.H. Johnson

    It's difficult to talk about Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth without telling you what an utterly wonderful book it is. It is simply wonderful, this powerful, personal and political story of LGBTQI+ history within the United Kingdom from the 1950s to the present day. I was very young and in the first years of school when section 28 was enacted and I do not ever remember being taught about histories like this. Though I can't directly link it towards the act itself of course, what with being

    It's difficult to talk about Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth without telling you what an utterly wonderful book it is. It is simply wonderful, this powerful, personal and political story of LGBTQI+ history within the United Kingdom from the 1950s to the present day. I was very young and in the first years of school when section 28 was enacted and I do not ever remember being taught about histories like this. Though I can't directly link it towards the act itself of course, what with being tiny and not present behind the scenes in any of the schools I subsequently attended, it is important to note that at least one classroom grew up without the awareness of things like this. Stories. Culture. People. And it is never just one classroom, never.

    And so we turn to stories to fill those gaps, and to provide those narratives of histories and lives lived so beautifully, so brilliantly in a world that was not yet ready or willing to hear them. Charlesworth delivers here not only just a personal memoir that documents her own realisation of her sexuality but also the stories of a thousand others. Each decade is introduced with a contextual double spread that talks about the LGBTQI+ events of the period and Charlesworth handles these stunningly, juxtaposing events such as the opening of Gay's the Word bookshop in 1979 (still trading! go!) with John Curry's performance at the 1976 Winter Olympics. These are people - places - things bursting from the pages, bustling against each other, and it is rather, utterly brilliant.

    Charlesworth is also somebody who knows how to handle a page. She packs the decade spreads with information, but then - when she has to - she knows how and when to give space. I was moved to tears by several of the pages in the 1980s, for example, and I loved her engagements with pop culture - there's a part where she discusses Doris Day and Calamity Jane and it is remarkable, wonderful stuff. It's full of power, every inch of it, and it's an education on more than one level.

    Would I recommend Sensible Footwear? Undoubtedly. It's a memoir on one level, a history lesson on another, and a tribute to those who had to live in a world that was not ready or willing to let them do precisely that. It is a staggering achievement.

  • Amelia

    Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide by Kate Charlesworth combines a beautiful memoir of a lesbian life with an in-depth queer history of post-war Britain. Its a real treasure trove, one I pored over for hours learning about queer actors, activists and artists, many of whom seem to have been lost to common knowledge, especially in the younger queer community. I've been thinking lots recently about how only certain bits of LGBTQ history seems to get a lot of traction while other people and events

    Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide by Kate Charlesworth combines a beautiful memoir of a lesbian life with an in-depth queer history of post-war Britain. Its a real treasure trove, one I pored over for hours learning about queer actors, activists and artists, many of whom seem to have been lost to common knowledge, especially in the younger queer community. I've been thinking lots recently about how only certain bits of LGBTQ history seems to get a lot of traction while other people and events that were really significant seem to still be largely hidden, so I'm really glad to see books like this one coming out.

    Like Jane Traies' collection of oral histories Now You See Me: Lesbian Life Stories which I recently read, Sensible Footwear highlights some particularly lesbian-specific themes around enduring and sometimes lifelong relationships that fluctuate over time between the sexual, romantic, platonic and familial which I really loved seeing, as well as considering the intersections of class and gender on the lesbian experience.

    Older lesbians and WLW have so little representation in the media, and even within my queer communities there's quite a big divide between generations, so I really enjoyed this way of connecting with older women's experiences. The art is as brilliant as you'd expect from a career cartoonist, and there are plenty of emotional and thought-provoking moments, including a few that had me in tears. Highly recommended!

  • Asta

    Bloody brilliant, aye!

  • Ben Truong

    is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Kate Charlesworth, which chronicles the LGBTQ+ movement in the United Kingdom over the last seventy years, while focused on Charlesworth life during this time.

    Across almost 70 years, Charlesworth has seen massive changes in British attitudes towards queer people. These weren't changes that happened on their own, they're not part of some inevitable tumble towards progress, as they were hard fought for and pushed

    is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Kate Charlesworth, which chronicles the LGBTQ+ movement in the United Kingdom over the last seventy years, while focused on Charlesworth life during this time.

    Across almost 70 years, Charlesworth has seen massive changes in British attitudes towards queer people. These weren't changes that happened on their own, they're not part of some inevitable tumble towards progress, as they were hard fought for and pushed against by reactionaries.

    While the book uses Charlesworth's own direct experiences as its launching point, her fierce intersectionality means she doesn't want to leave anything out. To manage the weight of all this history, Charlesworth breaks down major events into five year blocks, making timelines out of newspaper clippings, notes, and scanned images, invoking a DIY vibe across intricate double page spreads. This mash up approach, taking different sources and styles, feels defining here.

    is written and constructed rather well. It is a brilliant, wonderfully warm, often very smile-inducing and laughter-creating, emotionally engaging tour through the last few decades of Queer life and culture in the United Kingdom and further afield, intertwining both the Charlesworth's own life experiences as she grows up with the wider cultural and historical changes taking place, which gives the graphic novel both an over-arching, wide-ranging historical arc but at the same time maintaining a close, personal aspect to it that allows the reader to experience this as more than historical events or social-cultural changes, the reader can feel the impact on a more individual, emotional level.

    All in all,

    is a wonderful graphic novel that is both a personal story and a social history of the LGBTQ+ culture in the United Kingdom over the last seven decades.

  • Runningrara

    What strikes me, as a straight reader of this graphic story come history of gay rights, is just how recently our new equality has arrived and how similarly recent persecution and unfair treatment was the norm. Great format!

  • rosamund

    My wife and I were delighted to find a signed copy of this book when we visited the beautiful Golden Hare Books on a trip to Edinburgh.

    is a graphic history of Charlesworth's life, from her birth in 1950 to the preset day, alongside a history of the LGBTQ movement in Britain, and the changes in British society. In many ways, it's everything I felt the trite and forgettable

    should have been, and isn't, though its remit is very different from that book.

    My wife and I were delighted to find a signed copy of this book when we visited the beautiful Golden Hare Books on a trip to Edinburgh.

    is a graphic history of Charlesworth's life, from her birth in 1950 to the preset day, alongside a history of the LGBTQ movement in Britain, and the changes in British society. In many ways, it's everything I felt the trite and forgettable

    should have been, and isn't, though its remit is very different from that book. Charlesworth makes the sensible decision not to try to be universal in her approach to queer history, but instead focuses on the moments that were particularly relevant to her own life, and the people who influenced her. At times, this means the book can feel insular, as its focus is very much on mainland Britain and white lesbians, but it also gives the book a feeling of authenticity and an emotional honesty. The men and women Charlesworth writes about directly influenced her life, as well as the LGBTQ movement in Britain, and the police brutality, political hatred and hypocrisy she documents echo through her own life. It also shows us that, because LGBTQ history has not been valued, it's easily lost, and the moments that Charlesworth documents, often using primary sources, are integral and vital to remember. Charlesworth also points out that while she's trying to compile as broad a history as she can, she is drawing on sources from her own life, and that she cannot tell everyone's story -- she hopes the memoir will help to create a space to discuss other aspects of LGBTQ history, and remind us that we need to preserve these stories. I found this graphic memoir memorable, fascinating, and emotional. It's a gift to the LGBTQ community worldwide, and I'm so glad Charlesworth wrote it.

  • Enya

    the drawing style was very busy, which is not my favourite, but it was an absolutely astonishing record of recent queer history in the UK. Must-read for the young'uns out here reaping the benefits of this not-so-distant struggle for equality!

  • Susan

    I reviewed this for

    , but the long and short of it is that I am very much here for memoirs about a lesbian cartoonist from 1950s Barnsley that also provide a crash-course in queer media and activism in the UK!

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