As a cartoonist, writer and illustrator of graphic novels and books for children, Posy Simmonds is an astute chronicler of modern times, often likened to a contemporary George Elliot or Thomas Hardy. She is best known for her modern re-workings of classic literature Tamara Drewe and Gemma Bovery.
Favourably compared with Austen, Elliot and, most frequently, Thomas Hardy (upon whose work her own books are closely modelled), Posy Simmonds is an astute modern satirist, using a blend of words and pictures to successfully send-up and lambast the small-minded prurience of the British middle-classes.
Born in 1945 in Berkshire, Simmonds drew from an early age and studied at the Sorbonne before entering the world of print journalism with a daily cartoon for The Sun, moving on to work with The Times, Cosmopolitan. Her work with The Guardian, with whom she has been affiliated since the early 1970's, began with The Silent Three about middle-aged nurse Wendy Weber and her sociology lecturer husband George (the strips are collected in Mrs Weber’s Omnibus).
Children’s Books and Illustration
In the 1980's Simmonds began writing and illustrating children’s books including an array of characterful cats. There is Fred, the story of an ordinary, very lazy cat who after dark takes on an alternative persona as the Elvis of the cat world and Baker Cat, the story of a cat and mouse collaborative conspiracy.
Far From the ‘It’ Crowd
Her social commentary really found its full force however in Tamara Drewe, based on Far From the Madding Crowd it portrayed an astonishingly broad, often hilarious survey of village parochialism which ran to 109 episodes. The series drew universal praise with one critic declaring, ‘There is nothing in Hardy... which more grimly conveys the paralysis of lesser rural life than her pictures of Casey and Jody at the old bus shelter.’
One of life’s spectators, Simmonds is an expert observer on the minutiae of everyday life, happiest on the periphery where she says she frequently sees herself as "invisible, which is very useful. People say things in front of you as though you're not there."