Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns by Kerry Hudson; Common People: An Anthology of Working-Class Writers by Kit de Waal (ed) - review by Robert Colls

Robert Colls

Class Acts

Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns


Chatto & Windus 242pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Common People: An Anthology of Working-Class Writers


Unbound 307pp £9.99 order from our bookshop

Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen in 1980. When she was six, she and her mother went to live in Canterbury. When she was seven, they moved to Airdrie, when she was eight, to North Shields, when she was nine, to Hetton le Hole, and when she was eleven, to Coatbridge. At thirteen she was on the streets for a time. At fifteen, they went to Great Yarmouth. She made all these moves by coach or van, holding on to her mother, who in turn held on to the bin bags containing their possessions, the benefit book and the hope of a new start. Sometimes this involved a putative stepfather at the other end, though in all such cases, he would prove hopeless and they would end up lost. By the time Hudson was eighteen she had attended nine primary schools and five secondary schools, with two stays in foster care, one sexual abuse inquiry, two sexual assaults, one rape, two abortions and a skinful of anger, drink and humiliation along the way. Her real father was never there. Her mother stuck with her – though, God knows, not in a good way. Looking back over thirty years, Hudson is still trying to come to terms with a world of voluntary homelessness and emergency loans, being washed in Fairy liquid and, in between shit storms, getting laid. 

Hudson writes, ‘I am proudly working class and, in this socially mobile hinterland I currently occupy, I miss the sense of community and belonging which that tribe might provide.’ Only it didn’t. Who did? Kerry herself, with the help, gracefully acknowledged, of Hetton le Hole Old Library, Hetton Lyons Primary

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