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About the book
  • Published: 16 May 2016
  • ISBN: 9780224102346
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 144
  • RRP: $39.99

The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia

Formats & editions

An anarchist tale of an extraordinary woman, from the Costa Prize-winning authors of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes

Set against the background of violence and state repression in a turbulent period of French history, The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia chronicles the incredible and outrageous life of Louise Michel, the revolutionary feminist dubbed ‘The Red Virgin of Montmartre’. A utopian dreamer, notorious anarchist, teacher, orator and poet, she was decades ahead of her time. Always a radical, she fought on the barricades defending the short-lived Paris Commune of 1871 against the reactionary regime that massacred thousands of French citizens after the Commune’s defeat. Deported to a penal colony on the other side of the Earth, she took up the cause of the indigenous population against French colonial oppression.

Celebrating the utopian urge in nineteenth-century literature and politics and the origins of science fiction, The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia is the third collaboration of best-selling academic and graphic novelist Mary M. Talbot with her husband, the graphic novel pioneer Bryan Talbot. Their first book together, Dotter of her Father’s Eyes, won the 2012 Costa Biography Award.

  • Pub date: 16 May 2016
  • ISBN: 9780224102346
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 144
  • RRP: $39.99

About the Authors

Bryan Talbot

Bryan Talbot was born in 1952. He has worked on underground comics, science fiction and superhero stories such as Judge Dredd and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. His books include Alice in Sunderland, Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes (with Mary Talbot), the first graphic novel to win the Costa biography award, and the Grandville series.

Mary Talbot

Mary Talbot is an internationally acclaimed scholar who has published widely on language, gender and power, particularly in relation to media and consumer culture. She is the co-author of the graphic novels Dotter of her Father's Eyes and Sally Heathcote: Suffragette.

Praise for The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia

“A fascinating story…the stark illustrations match the story well… A fascinating piece of graphic biography, and it’s certainly a daring piece of work.”

Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

“A work of consummate mastery… The work is deftly done… If you’ve read their previous books, you’ll know the level of professionalism being brought to bear here and you’ll know they are just about cornering the market on intelligent, historical retellings of pivotal feminist characters. It’s a great read and we highly recommend.”


“[A] gripping, unforgettable account… [The Red Virgin is] a moving example of how a book can become an emotional experience as you turn each page.”

Lisa McKenzie, Times Higher Education

“I highly recommend this beautiful and enjoyable read that will make you want to learn more about the Paris Commune and Louise Michel.”

Jenny Sutton, Socialist Review

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