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Rosemary Elizabeth "Posy" Simmonds MBE (born 9 August 1945) is a Britishmarker newspaper cartoonist and writer and illustrator of children's books. She is best known for her long association with The Guardian, for which she has drawn the cartoons Gemma Bovery (2000) and Tamara Drewe (2005-2006), both later published as books. Her style gently satirises the English middle classes and in particular those of a literary bent. Both of the published books feature a "doomed heroine", much in the style of the 18th and 19th Century gothic romantic novel, to which they often allude, but with an ironic, modernist slant.


Posy Simmonds was born in Berkshire and educated at Queen Anne's School, Cavershammarker. She studied at the Sorbonnemarker before returning to Londonmarker to attend the Central School of Art & Designmarker. She started her newspaper career drawing a strip for The Sun in 1969 before joining The Guardian as an illustrator in 1972.

In 1979 she started drawing a weekly comic strip for The Guardian, initially titled The Silent Three of St. Botolph's as a tribute to the 1950s strip The Silent Three by Evelyn Flinders. The strip focused on three 1950s schoolfriends in their later, middle-class and nearly middle-aged lives: Wendy Weber, a former nurse married to polytechnic sociology lecturer George with a large brood of children; Jo Heep, married to whisky salesman Edmund with two rebellious teenagers; and Trish Wright, married to philandering advertising executive Stanhope with a young baby. The strip, which was latterly untitled and usually known just as "Posy", ran until the late 1980s. It was collected into a number of books: Mrs Weber's Diary, Pick of Posy, Very Posy and Pure Posy, and one original cartoon book featuring the same characters, True Love. Her later cartoons for The Guardian and The Spectator were collected as Mustn't Grumble in 1992.

In 1980 and 1981, Simmonds was named Cartoonist of the Year.

In 1987 Simmonds turned her hand to writing, as well as illustrating, children's books. Fred, the story of a cat with a secret life, was later filmed as Famous Fred and nominated for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film and several BAFTAs. Her other children's books include Lulu and the Flying Babies, The Chocolate Wedding and Lavender.

In the late 1990s Posy returned to the pages of The Guardian with Gemma Bovery, which reworked the story of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary into a satirical tale of English expatriates in France. It was published as a graphic novel in 1999. Literary Life appeared in The Guardian's "Review" section on Saturdays from November 2002 until December 2004. One collected edition of Literary Life cartoons has been published.

Posy's most recent Guardian series, Tamara Drewe, made its d├ębut in the Review section on 17 September 2005, in the first Saturday paper after the Guardian's relaunch in the Berliner format. It ended, with episode 109 and an epilogue, on 2 December 2006 and was published as a book in 2007.

She drew the illustrations for the opening titles of the BBC's 2007 production of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford, and for Midsummer Nights, a volume of opera-related short stories by prominent writers published in 2009 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Glyndebourne Opera Festivalmarker.

She was made a Member of the British Empire in 2002 for her services to the newspaper industry.

After being nominated already in 2001 for Gemma Bovary, Simmonds won the 2009 Prix de la critique of the French Association of comics critics and journalists for Tamara Drewe.

Selected bibliography

  • The Posy Simmonds Bear Book (1969)
  • Bear (1974)
  • More Bear
  • Mrs Weber's Diary (1979)
  • True Love (1981)
  • Pick Of Posy (1982)
  • Very Posy (1985)
  • Pure Posy (1987)
  • Mustn't Grumble (1993)
  • Gemma Bovery (1999)
  • Literary Life (2003)
  • Tamara Drewe (2007)

Children's books

  • Bouncing Buffalo (1984)
  • Fred (1987)
  • Lulu And The Flying Babies (1988)
  • The Chocolate Wedding (1990)
  • Matilda: Who Told Lies and Was Burned To Death (1991)
  • F-Freezing ABC (1996)
  • Cautionary Tales And Other Verses (1997)
  • Mr Frost (2001, in Little Litt #2)
  • Lavender (2003)
  • Baker Cat (2004)


  1. Paul Gravett interviewing Posy Simmonds

External links

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