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This article is taken from PN Review 245, Volume 45 Number 3, January - February 2019.

From Chetham’s Library
15: Drawing in Drag
Michael Powell
ALTHOUGH WE HAVE been bringing books out for over two centuries our track record as a publisher is not particularly good. Possibly we set the bar too low with our first work, the catalogue of the library, which we started publishing in 1791. The authors of this six volume work somehow decided that the people of Mancunium deserved a catalogue written in Latin. Books were arranged not by author but by subject and then by size. The result was that it was almost impossible to find any book, which, curiously enough, is not what most readers look for in a catalogue.

Given that our first steps in publishing set unparalleled standards for obscurity and inaccessibility, our publication of Simon Grennan’s Drawing in Drag by Marie Duval in October of this year is all the more startling. The book, which was brought out in conjunction with the London publisher Book Works, is both an artist’s book and also the Library’s first ever comic book. In a year when a comic book was long-listed for this year’s Booker Prize we are nothing if not on trend.

The book came out of a research project that Simon, an artist, graphic novelist and scholar of visual narrative, has carried out on a minor Victorian illustrator Marie Duval. In our collection is an illustrated novel of 1877 entitled The Story of a Honeymoon, written and illustrated by Charles H. Ross and Ambrose Clarke. The book is nothing special, thousands were produced like it as part of the first boom in ...

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