Ladies We Love: Writer Julia Pierpont and Illustrator Manjit Thapp
Presenting: an extra-special edition of Ladies We Love in honor of International Women’s Day—the first of four features this month. We snagged an interview with Julia and Manjit, the writer and illustrator behind our new favorite read, The Little Book of Feminist Saints. Don’t let its slim, fits-into-a-crossbody size fool you—this small but mighty title is filled to the brim with inspiration, telling the stories of 100 extraordinary women from Maya Angelou to Malala Yousafzai. Get to know the creators, plus find out what else we’ve got going on for International Women’s Day below.
Hi ladies—tell us about yourselves! What do you do, where do you live?
Julia Pierpont: Hi! I’m a writer. I try to be a writer every day. I live in New York—I was born here, but I’ve lived all over the city. Currently I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Manjit Thapp: And I’m an illustrator based in Birmingham, in the U.K. I’m all about female characters and combining traditional and digital media.
Let’s talk go-tos…
JP: I’m partial to bad deli coffee, with all the fixings.
MT: For me, it’s a frappuccino or tea depending on the weather.
JP: Jeans and something cozy with sleeves for work. I’m also trying to become a slipper person at home, but they’re always getting lost under the sofa.
MT: I’m very into wide-leg trousers at the moment.
JP: I love the bar Ramona and WORD bookstore.
MT: I like to eat out not far from where I live at Zizzi and Tom’s Kitchen.
JP: I’ve been listening to TORRES’s new album, Three Futures. But if I’m writing, classical music or else a movie score—no lyrics.
MT: Definitely Frank Ocean’s Blonde.
JP: A movie, a walk, a dog-friendly bar.
MT: Catching up on my personal art projects.
Love all of those recommendations. Now, onto the book! What was your favorite part about making The Little Book of Feminist Saints?
JP: My favorite part was in the discovery, which was probably the hardest part as well. It was exciting to find my way into each subject, and as I went along I found connections between the women—across continents and generations, they inspired one another. And it was so exciting to see Manjit’s illustrations bring the whole thing to life.
MT: Agreed! I really enjoyed the collaborative process of working alongside Julia and our editor Caitlin. I was also unfamiliar with a number of the women featured in the book and loved learning about each of them.
Sounds like a great collaboration. Now that it’s finished, who do you hope picks up a copy of this book and what do you hope they get out of it?
JP: The book is really for everyone. I think it’s about as important for men to read as for women—they need to learn to celebrate us as well! And I hope whoever reads it finds something that surprises them—new sources of inspiration and new ways of looking at women whose stories they thought they knew already.
MT: Yeah, I hope this book inspires anyone who picks it up. I think it’s important for everyone to be aware of the power and strength women have—and I love that at the end of the book we have a blank page and frame for the reader to add in their own feminist saint.
If you had to choose, which of the saints inspires you most?
JP: I was floored when I first read about the Night Witches. They were these Russian women who fought Nazi soldiers in World War II. They flew at night, two by two, in rickety crop dusters; the Germans thought they sounded like they were riding broomsticks, which is how they got their nickname. Without radios, without radar, even without parachutes—what could be braver than that?
MT: It’s so difficult to pick just one! Being an artist I’m very inspired by Frida Kahlo and Yayoi Kusama.
And finally, tell us about a lady you love in your life.
JP: I have an amazing mother, who also happens to be an amazing writer. She’s the person who taught me to love books, and she introduced me to so many of these women—Katharine Hepburn, Nina Simone, the Brontës—so that I had no shortage of heroes growing up.
MT: My mum, as well. She’s always been very supportive and her perseverance and strength are so inspiring to me. She’s the best person to turn to for a laugh when I’m feeling stressed with deadlines or if I want to talk through ideas.
Thanks, Manjit and Julia—here’s to moms, Night Witches and Feminist Saints of all kinds. Meet the rest of the ladies we’re spotlighting this International Women’s Day in the video below, plus stay tuned for interviews with each of them throughout the month.
Oh, and don’t forget to enter our Women for the Win sweeps—you could score a Madewell shopping spree, a signed copy of The Little Book of Feminist Saints, a custom illustration of your favorite saint by Manjit aaaand we’ll make a $1,000 donation to Girls Inc. in your name (!).* Get to it.
OK, OK, one more PSA: If you’re lookin’ for plans tonight, come celebrate IWD at all stores and shop for a cause from 6–8pm. 25 percent of the proceeds from the evening will benefit our friends at Girls Inc. Plus, if you’re in NYC, Julia will be at our Fifth Avenue store, hanging out and signing books. See you there.
* NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States (excluding Rhode Island), 18 years or older and over the age of majority in jurisdiction of residence at time of entry. Ends March 31, 2018, at6:00pm ET. For Official Rules, visit www.refinery29.com/sweeps/madewell-international-womens-day-sweepstakes/. Void where prohibited.