Jessie Burton and Angela Barrett's reworking of the Twelve Dancing Princesses
Bloomsbury Children's Books launched Jessie Burton and Angela Barrett's The Restless Girls last night at the Foundling Museum, Coram's Fields, in a room where portraits of male dignitaries had been replaced by paintings of the 21 women whose support was a catalyst for the museum - an appropriate setting for a feminist reworking of the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses.
Burton, author of the bestselling The Miniaturist, was introduced by her editor Ellen Holgate, along with “magical” illustrator Angela Barrett, whose “non-digital” artwork was rare these days. It had prompted one bookseller to remark: “Does anyone know where I can get a pair of pyjamas like that?” This was, said Holgate, a fairy tale she could read to her sons without having to explain that girls needed to be rescued by men, and that she could give to friends with daughters knowing that they would not feel obliged to note that girls were not required to search for Prince Charming.
Burton thanked Barrett for giving her words new life, and talked of the experience of working with Holgate and the Bloomsbury team as “truly enjoyable”. She thanked publicist Lizz Skelly for, among other things, “gluing tiaras to mortar boards”, and Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Katherine Rundell and Jacqueline Wilson for giving wonderful quotes (Wilson, she said, was “the equivalent of the Queen”); she was also thrilled that Thandie Newton was reading the audiobook. And she thanked her agent Juliet Mushens: “It was pleasure to see her cheeky, smiling face,” she said, “ready to screw another publisher out of a cheque."
Photo left to right: Ellen Holgate, Jessie Burton, Angela Barrett, Jacqueline Wilson