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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Alluring discontent

The late style of the graphic novelist Posy Simmonds is both enticingly accessible and disturbingly perceptive, says Jane Shilling
Cassandra Darke by Posy Simmonds (Jonathan Cape, £16.99)

As a small child, the artist and author Posy Simmonds used to sit under the table with a book and, hidden by the long tablecloth, listen enthralled to the grown-up conversations going on above her head: “I was aware of an adult world where things seemed to go terribly wrong and awful things happened.” Almost seven decades later she is still recording an adult world where things go terribly wrong, in pictorial narratives in which satire is mixed with vivid curiosity and an inexhaustible relish for the strangeness of everyday life.

For Simmonds, words and drawing went together from the very beginning. She was born in 1945, the middle child of five, and grew up on her parents’ dairy farm in Cookham, Berkshire, where she learned to read by leafing through the cartoons in old bound volumes of Punch magazine: “It was always completely normal that drawings would have words attached.” She developed an early interest in drawing, and she and a friend once hid behind a tombstone in Cookham churchyard to watch the local artist Stanley Spencer at work: “Eventually he gave us some sweets to go away.”

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s January/February double issue: A host of writers and personalities explain what they think will be the most important thing we need to learn in the new year. From Justin Welby arguing for new emphasis on learning to forgive and Lord Neuberger on the importance of a free judiciary to Hannah Fry on AI and Cathy Newman on what happens next for #MeToo—Prospect has it all. Elsewhere in the issue: Fintan O’Toole looks at Brexit from an Irish perspective, Wendell Steavenson dishes the dirt on what really happens to the waste you want to recycle, Frank Close questions why—half a century after our last visit—we’ve not been back to the Moon. Also, Michael Blastland argues that we’re ignoring the upsides of having an alcoholic drink and Clive James explores the life of Philip Larkin.