Serpent's Tail has signed its "stunning" first graphic novel, Alison, by author and illustrator Lizzy Stewart.
Alison tells the story of a young woman, born into a quiet life in Dorset at the end of the 1950s, who escapes in her 20s to the thrumming art scene of London at the end of the 1970s. But the vehicle for her escape is an older man whose reputation as an artist and philanderer casts a shadow which will follow Alison for years. A complex story about love and coming of age, it is also "a meditation on female friendship and empowerment, on art and patriarchy, on class, power and Britain".
Publisher Hannah Westland acquired world rights from Jane Finigan at Lutyens & Rubinstein. Serpent’s Tail will publish in summer 2022.
Westland said: "The greatest novels excel at the particular and the universal, and what I found so powerful about the combination of Lizzy’s writing and stunning artwork was how absolutely it immersed you in the precise milieu of artistic/bohemian London in the late 20th century, while at the same time conjuring a story that has resonance for all women’s lives. This is a book for anyone who loves novels, graphic or not, and should appeal to fans of Sally Rooney, or Leanne Shapton, but even more it made me think of the great empathic writers Alice Munro, Hilary Mantel and Tessa Hadley. Like them, Lizzy is drawn to quiet outsiders, and committed to revealing their depths. This book blew me away on all levels and we are hugely excited to be welcoming Lizzy to our list and publishing a graphic novel for the very first time on Serpent’s Tail."
Stewart has written and illustrated three picture books for children alongside 'Walking Distance", an illustrated essay, for indie-press Avery Hill and It's not what you thought it would be, a graphic short-story collection for Fantagraphics in the US. Her debut picture-book, There's a Tiger in the Garden (Lincoln Children's Books) won the Waterstones Children's Books Prize for Illustrated Books in 2017 as well as a World Illustration Award. She teaches illustration at Goldsmiths, University of London.
She said: "I'm incredibly excited to be working with Hannah and Serpent's Tail on my debut full-length work for adults. I've been so delighted and genuinely moved by how kindly they have welcomed my illustrated book to their, absolutely knockout list. I have loved writing and painting every page of this story and I really cannot wait to be able to share Alison and her life with readers next year."