Feminist Cartooning: Winnie Winkle, Breadwinner

Before Working Girl, 9 to 5, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or even Our Miss Brooks, which each featured single females in the mostly male world of business, there was the groundbreaking Winnie Winkle. She was the iconic working girl of the 20th century, who first appeared on September 20, 1920, in the comic strip Winnie Winkle, the Breadwinner, written and drawn by cartoonist Martin Branner. The 19th amendment granting women the right to vote in the United States had only been ratified a month earlier on August 18.

Yesterday Graphic Arts Collection (Princeton) gave due credit to Mrs. Edith Branner,
wife of Winnie Winkle creator Martin Branner.

Winnie was based on Branner’s own wife, “who worked with her husband in the production of the cartoon strip”

The Princeton item links to a more complete history of Winnie Winkle and creator Martin Branner
from the New England Historical Society.

[I]n 1920, Branner hit the jackpot.  There had been previous strips about working women. In 1907, Sally Snooks, a strip about a stenographer, appeared for about a year before it fizzled. Somebody’s Stenog started up in 1918. And publishers realized that with so many women taking up careers during World War I, the time was right for a character-driven comic strip about the travails of the young working woman.


This all gives us an excuse to turn this into a First and Last installment.

The comic strip was such a success in Chicago and New York City that the character continued to appear for more than seventy years, with the final strip published July 28, 1996.

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