Paris gets set to host major Posy Simmonds exhibition

A major, free exhibition of the work of cartoonist Posy Simmonds, co-curated by comics auteur Paul Gravett, will open at the Bpi – Bibliothèque publique d’information in the Centre Pompidou in Paris on Wednesday 22nd November, and run until 1st April 2024.

Posy Simmonds at the Centre Pompidou in June 2023 © Hervé Véronèse
Posy Simmonds at the Centre Pompidou in June 2023 © Hervé Véronèse

The exhibition of the former Guardian cartoonist’s work, who has since gone on tor write and draw several hugely successful graphic novels, including Gemma Bovery and Cassandra Darke, will be accompanied by a special catalogue in partnership with Denoël Graphic, who publish Posy’s work in French.

Developed in close collaboration with the artist, this retrospective, made up of five thematic parts, brings together nearly 130 original pieces, unpublished drawings, sketches, notebooks commented by the artist, and film extracts. Posy pays tribute to the richness and diversity of her career, from press cartoons to graphic novels including albums for young people.

Posy Simmonds – Dessiner la littérature 22 November 2023 - 1st April 2024 | Bibliothèque publique d’information / Centre Pompidou 75197 Paris Cedex 04 | Visit the web site for opening times and further information | Web:

Visitors will be able to discover a broad overview of her work: first her origins, childhood drawings and student work, as well as her literary influences; her work as a press cartoonist at the Guardian, the daily newspaper where she sketched English cultured society with humour, via archetypal figures, some of whom became the heroines of her future graphic novels; her works for young people, modern and insolent tales; and at the heart of the exhibition, a large part will be devoted to her graphic novels, of which she is considered a leader, which made her known to the general public – Gemma Bovery (1999), Tamara Drewe (2007) and Cassandra Darke (2018); and, finally, an epilogue devoted to her numerous drawings focusing on the literary and publishing world, to her more recent work and to her drawings linked to France.

“The public will find in her works the gift of observation,” says the gallery, “the sense of detail, the caustic look at contemporary morals and the world, and the taste for literature of Posy Simmonds who, as she says herself, ‘loves as much write than draw.'”

Posy Simmonds - Dessiner la littérature - Exhibition Catalogue

Posy Simmonds – Dessiner la littérature is produced in partnership with Denoël Graphic editions, who have published Posy Simmonds work in France since 2000, with the valuable help of Paul Gravett, co-curator of the exhibition, specialist in comics and the work of Posy Simmonds, author of Posy Simmonds: The Illustrators, published in 2019. It will be accompanied by associated programming (meetings, workshops, visits, etc.).

The exhibition catalogue will be released on Wednesday 11th October by Denoël Graphic, and it sounds like it’s going to be a very special item, including a guide to the exhibition and the featured art by co-curator of the exhibition, Paul Gravett; previously published drawings, including a representation of the 48-page story, TRUE LOVE, a graphic romance, drawn for The Guardian in 1981, 20 years before Gemma Bovery; some of Posy’s stories drawn for The Observer and Harper’s, satirical short-stories in colour; and, finally, a full-length interview with Posy Simmonds by journalist Anne-Claire Norot, a specialist in comics and a great connoisseur of the artist’s work, addressing the different stages of her career, her choices, her commitments and her battles with publishers, in particular to bring women’s comics work into the mainstream, in the patriarchal world of the British press.

This major event follows exhibitions dedicated to Claire Brétécher, Gaston Lagaffe, Riad Sattouf, Catherine Meurisse and Chris Ware, the Bpi striving to highlight the complete work of an artist who shook up the comics form in Great Britain, and around the world.

This retrospective will be located in the library’s Exhibition Gallery, within its reading spaces, a relevant and important place for someone who subtly blurs the boundaries between literature and drawing.

Born in 1945, growing up in Berkshire, in a career spanning over 50 years, Posy Simmonds is best known for the strip cartoons and serials that were published in The Guardian and the books that derive from them. These include Mrs Weber’s Diary (1979), True Love (1981), Literary Life Revisited (2016) and the graphic novels, Gemma Bovery(1999) and Tamara Drewe (2006). Both graphic novels have been made into feature films – Tamara Drewe, directed by Stephen Frears in 2010, and Gemma Bovery, directed by Anne Fontaine, in 2014. 

She has also written and illustrated several children’s books, including Fred, which became an Oscar-nominated film. The award-nominated Cassandra Darke, her latest graphic novel, was first released in 2018.

She was the winner of the Sergio Aragonés International Award for Excellence in Comic Art for 2022.

• Posy Simmonds – Dessiner la littérature 22 November 2023 – 1st April 2024 | Bibliothèque publique d’information / Centre Pompidou 75197 Paris Cedex 04 | Visit the web site for opening times and further information | Web:

Posy Simmonds: The Illustrators by Paul Gravett

• Buy it from AmazonUK

Simmonds once described her job on a census form as ‘a visual engineer’. Her extraordinary precision of drawing, her powers of observation and her sharp but welltempered wit have made her one the Britain’s most sophisticated innovators, renowned especially for expanding the scope and subtlety of comics. 

This is the first book to explore Simmonds’s life and work from her early childhood to the present day. In a series of interviews with Paul Gravett she offered insights into her creative process and provided unprecedented access to her ‘workroom’ and archives containing sketchbooks and rare or never-before-seen artworks. A portrait emerges of Posy Simmonds as a chronicler and critic of contemporary British society and a storyteller in words and pictures of rare perception and humanity. 

Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Collections, Comic Art, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Events, Exhibitions

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1 reply

  1. Brilliant, I might actually be able to make this one. The 2021 Basel expo was ruined by Covid.

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