Rosalind B. Penfold


Rosalind B. Penfold walked into what she thought would be a love story – with a recently widowed executive and his young children. It turned out to be the kind of life she had never experienced before. While many people might keep a diary, Rosalind drew what she witnessed – as it was happening – in harrowing detail, and then hid the images in a cardboard box. Now, many years later, her drawings have been compiled into this shocking, graphic account.

Her experience – of what it was like to be enmeshed in an abusive relationship, and how she eventually found the wisdom she needed to get out, will educate, inform and astound. Her images illustrate many of the known warning signs of intimate partner violence, and answer the common question, “Why did you stay?’ Many women in similar circumstances have said, “If you’ve never been there, you wouldn’t understand.” Rosalind B. Penfold’s images take you there. Disturbing, yet compelling, they show the destructive force of domestic abuse facing many families today.

Rosalind B. Penfold says, “I believe I turned to art instinctively because I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. I needed to see it in black and white. Ironically, although my illustrations give me distance, they give others a close-up. They turned out to be far more personal than prose could ever be. I am hoping that my book will lead to more open discussion, and a greater understanding of the nature of domestic abuse. Abuse needs to be recognized, named, and stopped. I feel strongly that this is not only my story. It is the story of millions of families across North America. I have chosen a pseudonym because there are many ‘Rosalinds’ and I was just one of them.”

Non-Fiction

Dragonslippers This extraordinary graphic novel memoir provides a window into the dark world of domestic abuse.
(In eleven countries worldwide) Shortlist, 2006 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-fiction
Shortlist, Best Book, 2006 Wright Awards for Canadian Cartooning The Graphic Diaries of Rosalind B. Penfold, Graphic NarrativeWhen successful young businesswoman Roz met impulsive, outgoing widower Brian, she was immediately swept off her feet. Romantic and exuberant, with four loving children, Brian seemed like everything a woman could possibly want, and within months of meeting him, Roz was deeply, devotedly in love.

But not long into the relationship, Roz began to notice the first worrying signs that the man to whom she was now committed was not what he seemed. A pattern of small lies and petty cruelties began to emerge which, over the course of their ten-year relationship, would come to encompass a litany of physical, mental and sexual abuse truly appalling in its scope and malevolence.

Often too traumatized and ashamed to admit the true extent of the abuse she was suffering – either to herself or to her increasingly concerned family and friends – Rosalind B. Penfold instead poured her anguish into a series of graphic diaries which she maintained for the length of her nightmarish relationship. The result is a touching, profoundly shocking and completely original portrait of domestic abuse that charts with dramatic immediacy the disintegration of a romance into a morass of confusion and fear.

This extraordinary visual testimony to an experience both intensely personal and frighteningly universal provides an unparalleled window into the usually shuttered world of domestic abuse and the claustrophobic lives of its victims. Illuminating, horrifying and inspiring, Rosalind B. Penfold’s story is a caution against the more subtle warning signs of abuse and a frank examination of the psychology of both abusers and victims. Above all, however, it is the story of a woman who fought for and found the strength to break free.

Rosalind B. Penfold says, “I believe I turned to art instinctively because I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. I needed to see it in black and white. Ironically, although my illustrations gave me distance, they give others a close-up. They turned out to be far more personal than prose could ever be. I am hoping that my book will lead to more open discussion, and a greater understanding of the nature of domestic abuse. Abuse needs to be recognized, named, and stopped. I feel strongly that this is not only my story. It is the story of millions of families across North America. I have chosen a pseudonym because there are many ‘Rosalinds’ and I was just one of them.”

More information can be found about Dragonslippers at the friends-of-rosalind website.

World Rights Available Ex:

Poland: Kochac zbyt mocno, MAG, 2007
French: Dans les sables mouvants, Editions Ca et La, 2007
Germany: Und das soll Liebe sein?, Eichborn, 2006
Indonesia: Love Me Better, PT Gramedia, 2006
Italy: Le pantofole dell’orco, Sperling & Kupfer, 2006
Netherlands: Drakenslippers, Uneiboek, 2006
Spain: Quieréme Bien, Lumen, 2006
UK: Dragonslippers, HarperCollins, 2006
US: Dragonslippers, Grove Press, 2006
Brazil: Mas Ele Diz Que Me Ama, Ediouro, 2006
English Canada: Dragonslippers, Penguin, 2005

Selected Praise

For Dragonslippers”A remarkable and utterly compulsive graphic memoir that chronicles the deterioration of her seemingly perfect relationship, with a widower and father of four, into violence and abuse.”
—The Bookseller

“Dragonslippers is graphic in both senses of the word. The book takes less than an hour to read, yet conveys Roz’s story with an immediacy and impact that a conventional 300-page account would struggle to match. ”
—Sunday Telegraph

“[Dragonslippers is] a graphic memoir featuring images as well as words, and it’s a powerful work. Dragonslippers is full of haunting, hideous recollections – children abused, sexual taunting, outright lying and duplicity, stunning behavioural flip-flops by Brian, heaped humiliation.”
—Montreal Gazette

“Dragonslippers is her riveting, unflinchingly detailed diary in words and pictures of how she was seduced by the wrong man, a blustery, needy charmer who hugged and humiliated her until she hardly knew who she was. An eye-opener by a woman who had to teach herself ‘a new definition of love'”.
—O Magazine

“These are the pieces of her past that her mind defensively blotted out to keep her functional while she was with Brian. They succinctly and accurately expose the psychology of both the abused and the abuser, and the pictorial format makes the book extremely easy to read but hard to digest. If you’re fighting to get out of a relationship gone bad or looking for a way to support a friend who can no longer hold her head up, Dragonslippers might be a light switch in the tunnel.”
—Hour Magazine, Montreal

“Thank you for sending me Dragonslippers. I thought it was a wonderful book which really gets over the terrific nightmare that women victims of domestic violence discover.”
–Cherie Blair, prominent QC and campaigner, and wife of Tony Blair

“The result is a touching, profoundly shocking, and completely original portrait of domestic abuse… An extraordinary visual testimony, Dragonslippers presents the many warning signs of abuse and offers a frank examination of the psychology of both abusers and victims. Above all, however, it is the story of a woman who fought for and found the strength to break free.”
—McNally Robinson Newsletter

“Vividly evokes the gradual journey of so many women from independence to subjugation in an abusive relationship and does more to convey the effects of domestic violence than a dozen worthy text books.”
–Meera Syal, comedian, actress, writer, and supporter of Women’s Aid UK

“[Dragonslippers] is an important story, accessibly told and a valuable resource. Penfold raises questions, presents explanations and gives hope. We learn about ourselves – as individuals and as a culture – through the stories of others, and Penfold offers her intensely personal story as a touchstone. In a tradition of women telling their private truths as a transformative political act, Dragonslippers is an innovative way to force a closer look at a shrouded, pernicious, and persistent issue too many are reluctant to open their eyes and see.”
—Jane Henderson, Rabble.ca

Agent: Samantha Haywood