When I was eight or nine, I wrote and illustrated a full-color, stapled-bound book entitled Nosie Nellie. Nosie Nellie and her friend Naughty Nancy, drawn wearing skirts and large bows in their hair, are confident, opinionated girls—empowered, one might say. In Chapter 1, they visit a woman’s house and destroy her doll collection. My illustration of the hacked-up dolls emanates the glee of destruction, and the horror of a hapless adult. I do not dwell on the consequences of this act. In Chapter 2, Nellie and Nancy encounter two boys, whom they dismiss as “show-offs.” Fittingly, the boys are hypermasculine in their appearance, wearing football uniforms, complete with padded shoulders and helmets. The boys take chase, but the girls outwit them by hiding in a bush.
I love this book, and the eight-year-old Alice who wrote it, listing her other book titles inside the front cover—Lazy Linda, Pete the Pig, Cat and Mouse. (I never wrote those books.) I love the vision I had for myself as an author. I do not recall showing the book to my mother or to anyone, but I do recall the pleasure of its making.
My first feminist manifesto.