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Julia
(The Life & Times of
an Extraordinary Woman)

*
Michael Kluckner



A novelist, journalist, socialite, botanist, explorer, and World War I ambulance driver, Julia Henshaw was a unique and colourful personality. This graphic biography follows her extraordinary life from Montreal to Vancouver, from the Rocky Mountains to England, and from the mining towns of BC's Kootenays to the battlefields of France and Belgium. Her strongly expressed views of women's roles and voting rights, of racial and class issues, and of Canada's relationship to Great Britain and the USA are an illuminating contrast with the values of her contemporaries, and with society today.


132 pages, black and white, 7 5/8 x 10 3/4 inches, soft cover
Published by Midtown Press, Vancouver, 2018
ISBN 978-1-988242-20-0
Suggested retail: $19.95

Available from all bookstores (real ones and on-line, too), plus the Comic Shop on 4th Avenue in Vancouver.

Here are the upcoming public events for Julia:

• LAUNCH at Massy Books, 229 East Georgia Street in Vancouver's Chinatown, May 15 at 7 pm
• VanCAF, the comic arts festival, at the Roundhouse Community Centre on Saturday and Sunday May 19 and 20. I will be there for much of the weekend at the Midtown Press table.
• A brief talk and signing at Black Bond Books in Ladner scheduled for June 9, time TBA.

...and then later at ...
• Nelson Public Library, June 28th at 7 pm
• Grizzly Books, Revelstoke, June 29th, probably late afternoon
• Salmon Arm Public Library, June 30th, 2 pm.
• Radium Public Library, 6:30 pm.
• Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, October 17th, 2 pm
• Friends of the BC Archives, Victoria, October 21st.
• Vancouver Historical Society, Museum of Vancouver, October 25th, 7:30 pm.
• Langley Heritage Society's Douglas Day banquet, Fort Langley Community Hall, November 16, 2018

REVIEWS and other notices are posted below.


(My Facebook page will have up-to-date posts about events although I will put major ones on the "newstuff" page on this site; more permanent items such as reviews will be posted below)

Julia mixes the graphic novel genre with a lot of digital visual material, including newspaper facsimiles and some historic photographs, to fill in the blanks in the record of Julia Henshaw's eventful life. It also has me (the author) as a recurring character – not at all unusual as witnessed by Art Spiegelman in Maus and the narrator in Persepolis, to name a couple of famous examples. The mixing of different media is something I first saw in Shigeru Mizuki's Showa history of Japan; I've used Photoshop Elements to bend and distort newspaper pages, for example.



The high-resolution newspaper facsimiles, and the 480-dpi printing of them in the graphic novel itself, means they can actually be read with a magnifying glass. This is "history getting its voice back."



The story begins in 1983 when I discovered Julia's "playboy" husband Charles Henshaw.
As it turned out, he was almost a non-entity compared with his talented and ambitious wife.



Julia was born in Durham, England in 1868. Her father owned a very successful carpet factory and was a gentleman angler and outdoorsman.



Julia moved to Montreal at age 17 to live with her oldest sister and was soon  courted by the 26-year-old Charles Henshaw....



They moved to Vancouver in 1890, when the city was only four years old ...



Julia became a public figure, giving lectures and writing theatre and music reviews in 1898 under the nom de plume Julian Durham...



She wrote two novels, the second of which – Why Not, Sweetheart? (1901) – is partly set in the Kootenays region of British Columbia...



She became fascinated with alpine botany around 1900, and explored the Selkirk and Rocky Mountains ...



From 1901–10, as "Gwen," she wrote a two-page "From a Woman's Point of View" section each Sunday in the Vancouver News-Advertiser.
Her columns included political and arts commentary and book reviews as well as some society chatter and cooking and fashion advice ...



During the first decade of the 20th century, she wrote numerous articles for Canadian and British magazines on her mountain adventures...



Her magnum opus, the first book on alpine botany in western North America, came out in 1906 and was reprinted several times...



The Henshaws eventually settled in the Ruskin-inspired seaside community of Caulfeild in West Vancouver...



During WWI, she became an unconventional Canadian army captain, lecturing and raising funds in Canada and the US from 1915–17...



... and in 1918 commanded a British unit of the French Red Cross – women who evacuated and cared for villagers terrorized by the war.


She won the Croix de guerre, one of a number of honours she received for her wartime service.



The story continues through until her death in 1937, touching on all the important issues of the day:
race, social class, women's rights and roles.

Contains supplementary notes, a bibliography and an index.

Reviews

In the Ormsby Review, July 8, 2018:
"Julia Henshaw’s forceful voice had been stilled through the years but comes out loud and clear in this delightful work."
The full review here.

***

In the Kütne Reader, the blog of Greg Nesteroff, July 5, 2018



Read the entire post here.
***

Vernon Morning Star, June 27, 2018



A descriptive look at the book in BC History magazine, Summer 2018


From "Friday A.M.," Salmon Arm BC, June 8, 2018





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Artwork & text © Michael Kluckner, 2018