Miriam Ella's new spoof Ladybird Books are caustic and hilarious

A year after her copyright feud with Penguin Books, Miriam Elia has released two more of her Ladybird spoof books – and their satire is still as cutting and funny.


A year after her copyright feud with Penguin, visual artist and comedy writer Miriam Elia has released two more of her Ladybird spoof books - and the tongue-and-cheek does not disappoint. 

Miriam has illustrated and co-written We Learn at Home and We Go Out, expanding her self-published satirical Dung Beetle book series, a poke in the face of the iconic British Ladybird books.

The books were written by Miriam and her brother Ezra, and illustrated by collaging photographs and watercolour wash.

The limited artists' editions of We Go Out and We Learn at Home can be pre-ordered from Miriam's website for £25. There are only 600 of each edition available online.

Image: Original Ladybird books and reprints from the 1960s and 80s.

The books follow the heated copyright turmoil over her original book released in 2015 for a mere £8.99, We Go To The Gallerywhere readers "join John and Susan on their exciting journey through the art exhibition, where, with Mummy’s help, they will discover that real meaning does not exist, and that death is final".      

Penguin Books sued Miriam's spoof version under copyright of their own famous books (shown here), which Brits will nostalgically look back on. They showed an idealised version of Britain never really existed – but it was a world of wonder, positivity and joy illustrated with artworks that have lost none of their charm. Last year saw an exhibition of these illustrations that toured the UK.


Image: Pages from We Go Out.

The pocket-sized collectable books presented a conventional world of post-war life with clearly defined gender roles, accompanied with full-page illustration, where Mummy went to the local greengrocer, cooked delicious meals and while the children played and daddy washed his car.

Essentially, Ladybird books captured the essence of British working life, offering insights into British society seemingly so far from modern life that the concepts begged to be toyed with. 

 

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Image: Pages from Miriam's new book, We Go Out, referring to Penguin Books.

Only 1000 copies of We Go to the Gallery were printed privately, funded through Kickstarter, before Penguin Books, who own Ladybird books, told her any more books published had to be destroyed due to copyright infringement.

That’s when Miriam came up with the idea of the Dung Beetle reading scheme instead.


Image: Pages from Miriam's book We Go Out.

However Miriam said at the time the books were a homage to Ladybird as well as a satirical comment on the art world.

But since then Ladybird released its own spoof series – with more obvious stereotypes as the targets – such as how to be a good husband, wife or hipster.

She responded with an artwork We sue an artist, and then rip off her idea.

 


Image: Pages from We Learn at Home.

Miriam studied graphic design in Brighton, before moving onto the Royal College of Art.

She has also created comedy shorts for Channel 4's Random Acts series, and won the BBC new talent award in 2008 for the first episode of A Series of Psychotic Episodes.

Her two new books explore modern issues such as feminism, terrorism and immigration in a way that will shock, humour and provoke thought about the world we live in.

Click on the next slide to see more pages from her new books.

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Image: Pages from We Learn at Home.

 


Image: Pages from We Go Out.