For anyone still unfamiliar with the Peterloo Massacre, it was one of the saddest days in working class history, when, on the 16th August 1819 in St Peter's Fields Manchester, armed cavalry charged a peaceful crowd of around 60,000 people, gathered to listen to anti-poverty and pro-democracy speakers. It is estimated that 18 were killed, and nearly 700 seriously injured in the fall-out.
Next year sees the 200th anniversary of the event and, to mark the occasion, a new graphic book, PETERLOO: Witnesses to a Massacre, is set to be published by Myriad and New Internationalist, documenting the happenings with an original and historically accurate visual account.
"The most interesting and challenging thing about the project is that it won't have any fictional dramatic dialogue in it; every word will be sourced from authentic period documents" explains Paul Fitzgerald one of the book's creators "We've access to hundreds of letters, journals, courtroom transcripts and spies' reports. We don't think anything we could write would be more dramatic and gritty than the words of those who were there."
The 108 page paperback by Polyp, Poole and Schlunke, is also set to have some truly stunning artwork and an introduction by Christopher Eccleston, who will be revealing a family legend about one of his ancestor's encounters with the military on the day.
Chris is keeping the story secret until it's published...and in order to get it published, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched to raise £10,000 by March 10th. Almost £4,000 has already been pledged.
"Part-funding it through kickstarter feels like we're carrying on an old tradition of 'public subscription' to commemorate the massacre, which the original protesters used to fund things like the Free Trade Hall and the monuments to Henry Hunt and Sam Bamford" Paul explains.
Maxine Peake is also backing the campaign... "This amazing artwork, combined with a narrative made from real eyewitness accounts, will make a powerful testimony to the 1819 massacre" she says "The Manchester-based authors have been deeply involved in revitalizing the memory of Peterloo...Support this kickstarter project, and help make sure this graphic novel happens."
Pledges start from £1, while £10 gets you a temporary Peterloo heart tattoo, a button badge, your name in the book and a 'solidarity pack'. Other pledges rise to a £250 'radical campaigner' donation which allows you to have your likeness in the book, receive two signed copies, a print of the artwork for a page of your choice, enamel Peterloo badges and more.
For full details see the Peterloo Kickstarter page – click here.
While the project isn't part of the official Peterloo Memorial Campaign, all three authors and illustrators are core members. For further details of the Campaign click here
Main photo shows Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peake at last year's Peterloo Memorial event - for more details see Salford Star article - click here