“Why She Wrote” by Hannah K. Chapman and Lauren Burke, Illustrated by Kaley Bales is a remarkable nonfiction graphic novel retracing the drive for writing in the classic english speaking female writers.
This is an incredible amount of work, a truly thick volume of many informative facts and little known facets of the women writers so many of us love. I have a particular fondness for Elizabeth Gaskell so I was very excited to read her section, but she is just one tiny speck in a very vast collection of names, a lot I didn’t know and that I now want to discover.
There is a short biography of every of the women featured in this volume, as well as a bibliography, which make our work as reader so easy, we just have to look for the title given on our e-reader and off we can start reading a wonderful classic.
Every writer also has a little comic illustrating one of the moments when writing was a struggle in her life, where she questioned what her motivation was and if it was worth it to publish. Some of those comics are incredibly insightful – I must admit I now understand better why I always found reading Mary Shelly viscerally disturbing. Some talked to me a lot less. But in all cases I really loved discovering about all those strong women that braved the social codes of their time and wrote wrote and wrote despite all the barriers put in their way.
The illustrations are simple and clear. The features and expressions of the people populating the pages are all well defined making every single one of them recognisable and their feelings more real. They serve the book very well.
This is a book that should be in every public library. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves books and the writers behind them.