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First in the Fight is out now

Chelsea Waite's illustration for Esther Roper

Book profiling inspirational Manchester women brought to life by alumni designs

28 November 2019

First in the Fight features illustrations from four School of Art graduates

Stories of trailblazing women from Manchester’s past have been illustrated by a group of recent Manchester School of Art graduates.

New book First in the Fight features illustrations from four BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation alumni – Maisy Summer, Chelsea Waites, Emily Dayson and Sarah Wilson.

The book tells the story of 20 radical women in Manchester’s history, and is written by social historian Helen Antrobus and Andrew Simcock, a city councillor who launched the campaign which resulted in the installation of Hazel Reeves’ Emmeline Pankhurst statue in St. Peter’s Square.

Maisy Summer's illustration for Lydia Becker

Each of the 20 women were on the longlist that the public eventually chose from to be the subject of Manchester’s first female statue since 1901. First in the Fight, published by iNostalgia, tells their stories together for the first time.

All four of the alumni illustrators are part of Women in Print, a collective of artists, designers, illustrators and makers that shines a light on women’s history through print. Individual members provided an illustration for all 20 women in the book, which includes suffragette campaigners Emmeline, Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst and author Elizabeth Gaskell.

Waites, whose illustration accompanied the story of suffragist and social campaigner Esther Roper, said: "The book is so important as it brings to light the women who helped to shape Manchester and the rest of the world.

Sarah Wilson's depiction of Emily Williamson

“For my illustration of Esther Roper I wanted to make sure that I included as much as I could as Esther did so many inspiring things with her life."

Summer, who illustrated scientist and suffragist Lydia Becker’s story, said: “I really enjoyed working with a piece of history, learning about the women who shaped Manchester, then using this research to create an illustrated visual.”

Wilson illustrated Emily Williamson, co-founder of the RSPB, and said: “'I feel very proud to have played a part in contributing to the artwork of First In The Fight alongside other wonderful artists.

Emily Dayson's illustration of Shena Simon

"It was a privilege being a part of such an important publication, which commemorates the legacies of notable Manchester women.”

Politician and educationalist Shena Simon’s entry featured work by Dayson, who said: “I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this amazing project and book, which truly highlights the huge impact that women have had on our city.”