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Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  32 reviews
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 Footw ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 25th 2019 by Myriad Editions
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Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Ben Truong
Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide 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 again
Charles Edwards-Freshwater
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm fairly new to the graphic novel genre, but already I think this is a perfect example of one done right.

Packed full of history, charm, wit and humour, Kate Charlesworth's ode to the queer lifestyle is a poignant, autobiographical look into living a life off the path of ordinary and also a highly educational piece of work that really delves deep into UK queer culture.

I especially liked learning some basic Polari and seeing how this coded language developed by the gay subculture was integrated
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I spotted a copy of 'Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide' in the library and recalled reading a recommendation of it somewhere on the internet, so onto the card it went. It is a lovely graphic novel that combines personal memoir with queer history. Charlesworth recounts her experiences of lesbian life and chronicles changes in legal and social acceptance of LGBTQ people in the UK since the 1950s. I really like her art style, which includes delightful pastiches of kids comics and beautiful montages ...more
Claire Robertson
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Have a notes app or some pen/paper handy when reading this because there are so many references to queer culture/people/historical events that you will want to look up afterwards and you will regret not taking notes (I'm speaking from experience, don't be an idiot like me).

Sensible Footwear is graphic memoir that looks at LGBTQIA+ history in Britain from the 1950s to present day (2019) but at its heart it is the story of Kate Charlesworth, an artist navigating her life as a lesbian throughout t
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bloody brilliant, aye!
Louise / Daisy May 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 ...more
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 th ...more
May 28, 2020 rated it liked it
For a history of LGBT rights in both post-war Britain and some moments from the USA’s history, check out Kate Charlesworth’s book Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide. The book is both an examination of the movement in the 20th century and Charlesworth’s place in it; it’s a memoir and a history.

The book switches between many different art styles like watercolor, inks, collage, and more. The writing is quite witty and fun while showing Charlesworth’s humor about her coming out as a lesbian. I found
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Informative and at times very touching blend of history and memoir.
This graphic work of nonfiction is bursting with history, people, facts, events and more of the UK’s gay and lesbian history. There was so many interesting and powerful things that i heard about for the first time and would love to look into further. Also, as the book notes, lesbian history is often neglected in favour of gay history so i loved seeing the balance redressed and focused upon. The other half of this book was the author’s personal experiences - these themselves said a lot about lesb ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After reading a a lot of US-based queer history, I was looking for something set in the UK. This did not disappoint. I loved how we got to see gay Manchester in the late 60s and 70s, then London in the 80s, then Edinburgh and the Scottish borders in the 90s and 00s as Charlesworth moves around the UK. She charts the GLF, Outrage!, Lesbian Avengers and other well known gay liberation groups, alongside lesser known movements and people. I enjoyed reading about her own queer heroes growing up, who ...more
Ida Ottesen
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia, nonfiction
Want to know more about British LGBT history, mainly focused on lesbians and a personal memoir? This book is for you.

I learned so much, and even though I knew some of the legal discrimination against the community was only rectified in recent years, some of the facts still absolutely floored me. Why are we not taught more of this in schools?

The book is full to bursting with LGBT history and features lots of LGBT icons. Sometimes there was so much information on the pages that it felt less like a
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
What an achievement this is! Clearly the author's life work, this graphic novel is both a deeply personal account of being a lesbian born in the 50s, and a proper history manual, chronicling the progress of LGBTQ rights and highlighting key groundbreaking figures (activists, politicians, authors, artists...). The book starts with this beautiful sentiment: 'May any omissions serve as a starting point for telling more stories', and one thing is for sure, there are many people featured in those pag ...more
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Memoir meets lesbian history in this brilliant graphic work. Both a look at LGBTQ+ history and a tender portrait of a dyke about town, an artist, a daughter, a partner, a dog-owner and cartoonist. Kate Charlesworth pulls this all off effortlessly and more.
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked the memoir aspect, and the historical moments peppered throughout. However, I had no idea which present-time character was Kate and which of her friends were her partner or ex because they all looked the same in black and white! Maybe some colour could have been used on them...
Joana Felício
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 Really great read!
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable. Gorgeous pages full of 60+ years of personal and political stories woven together as a narrative. Never read anything like it and want to pick it up and start again
Aug 06, 2020 rated it liked it
The author's personal journey of coming to turns with her sexuality, coming out, finding her friendgroup, the strained relationship with her mother who keeps deniying her's sexuality, fighting for her rights, and growing older is interspliced with - as the backcover puts it - Fabulous features! LGBT Icons & History! With added Lesbians.

I feel bad for saying it because I do appriciate the people who came before and paved the way, that coming out in the 70's must've been harder than now - but I c
Caty Murray
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fun read. Few bits about the theatre went a bit over my head
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic, lgbt, memoir
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. Sensible Footwear 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 Queer: A Graphic History should have been, and isn't, though its remit is very different from that book. C ...more
Sadie Slater
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sensible Footwear: A Girl's Guide is at once cartoonist Kate Charlesworth's autobiography in graphic novel form and a history of LGBTQ+ culture in Britain over the last seventy years. Charlesworth mixes formative moments from her life (the gradual realisation of her sexuality, key relationships, moves from a small town near Barnsley to Manchester, London and Edinburgh) and her career with double-page spreads, each focused on a period of a few years, setting out key events for the LGBTQ+ communit ...more
Cute, informative and beautifully illustrated. It's nice to read LGBTQ+ history that is UK based as well.
Erica G
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
This was a pretty awesome graphic novel, part autobiography, part LGBT+ history textbook. The author was born in 1950 and in her lifetime has seen significant social change. She’s British so the book refers to UK- specific events such as Section 28.
I reviewed this for the Lesbrary, 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! ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A warm, inclusive, extensive and gorgeously drawn queer history from the 1950s to now. Kate Charlesworth has managed to achieve an unbelievably broad reach with this book and it has educated many of us who thought we knew our stuff!
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
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!
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
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!
Vesna Jusup
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great timeline and very nice combo of personal story and legal, societal developments. A bit hard to follow for someone who did not grew up in Britain, as only some culture references worked. But hence educational. Anyone mildly interested in lgbt right should read this piece
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Kate Charlesworth was born in Yorkshire and studied at the Manchester College of Art and Design. Her illustrations have appeared in the Guardian, the Independent and she has worked on many books, comics and magazines. She lives in Edinburgh.

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