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Book recalls the legend of the Hartlepool monkey
It has taken more than 200 years but the French have finally returned to Hartlepool to investigate the tale of the hanged monkey.
French authors Wilfrid Lupano and Jeremie Morrow have created a graphic novel called the Hartlepool Monkey, about the legend.
It sold 25,000 copies in France and has now been translated into English, complete with Hartlepool dialect.
Today (Friday, October 4), the writer and artist launched the English version in the town, making their first visit to the place where, the story goes, townsfolk hanged a monkey believing it to be a French spy in the Napoleonic Wars.
But this time the human French visitors say they were greeted with nothing but friendliness.
“The first thing we did was get in the taxi,” said their publisher Tony Bennett. “We asked the driver to go to the statue of the monkey but he said ‘I don’t want to hear anything more about monkey, there are supposed to be Frenchmen coming here to talk about it we’ve had enough of the monkey’ but when we told him it was us we had a good laugh.”
The authors took part in a book signing session in WHSmith before conducting an art and writing workshop in the library.
Mr Lupano, who has a Hartlepool United top, had first heard the story when drinking with a friend in a Manchester pub, said he was impressed with the town and the friendliness of the people.
“Who knows, we might get in a fight later to give you a story,” he joked. “In France nobody had ever heard of the story and it really caught the imagination.”
He also said he loved how Stuart Drummond, who stood as H’Angus the monkey, was elected as Mayor and argued the people of Hartlepool should embrace the story which exposes the ridiculousness of unfounded prejudice.
The graphic novel, which has won a major historical literature prize in France, is published in the UK by Knockabout Comics and can be found on Knockabout.com
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