Alternative Estuary No.3 off to the printer

The latest Alternative Estuary paper (our better behaved sister project) has been sent to our friends at Oxford GreenPrint for printing. We have a fair few events coming up throughout the autumn and into the winter where we’ll distributing copies of the paper. We’ll also be getting small bundles of the paper into venues sympathetic to our project for their patrons to read. The good news is that this list is steadily growing:) As ever, any help with distribution will be appreciated. So, if you want to take a small bundle to hand out to friends, neighbours, family and colleagues, let us know and we’ll work out a way of getting them to you.

Please note that the list of grassroots projects, blogs of interest and useful resources on the back of the paper is not a definitive one. We’ve included the ones we know about. If we’ve missed yours…

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My review of “Sisters in Cells” by Aine and Eibhlin Nic Giolla Easpaig

lipstick socialist

sisters in cells

Aine and Eibhlin Nic Giolla Easpaig are unique in several ways. They were republican women political prisoners in the 70s – the first women of that era to be imprisoned in England, while their autobiography “Sisters in Cells” is one of the few jail journals that has  been written by women, telling their story of growing up in Manchester in the 60s and 70s and their experiences as innocent people in the prison system.

The sisters were born in Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. It was a republican area where people spoke Irish as their first language and were closely intertwined with the politics of a united Ireland. They grew up there until the 1960s when their parents, like many Irish at that time, decided to seek work in England.

Their new life  was a massive cultural change; they were now living in urban Manchester, part of a large…

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Introducing Working Class Literature

Working Class History

Following on from the success of the Working Class History podcast and social media pages, we recently decided to start a new sister project: Working Class Literature.

Like our history, working class literature is often neglected (or completely forgotten) within literary institutions – like publishing or the academy – that actively discourage or exclude working class people from participation. Beyond this exclusion, there also exist the various obstacles of poverty, work, time (or lack thereof) and formal education (likewise) which might stop working class writers from ever writing in the first place.

Yet, nonetheless, the working class has a rich literary history and it is the aim of Working Class Literature to help promote it.

The project will consist of a Twitter account and occasional podcast to discuss working class writers or various texts and authors in their relationship to working class politics. The first podcast episode will be about the life and work of T-Bone Slim, a poet, songwriter and columnist for the Industrial Workers of the World union who was at various points a hobo, dock worker and lumberjack. For this episode, we’ve interviewed Owen Clayton from the University of Lincoln as well as Slim’s Great Grandnephew, John Westmoreland.

More generally, we hope to expand what is generally considered ‘working class literature’ to include not only the likes of Robert Tressell, John Steinbeck and Alan Sillitoe (great as they all are) but also writers like BS Johnson, Toni Morrison, George Lamming and Djuna Barnes who, for various reasons, are usually not included under the label of ‘working class literature’.

So if you’re on Twitter, do please follow @workingclasslit, share our content and invite your friends to do the same. And feel free to give us suggestions for authors who we should be reading to help us promote the rich literary and cultural life of our class!

If you value our work please take a second to support Working Class History on Patreon!

My review of Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story by Celeste Bell and Zoe Howe

lipstick socialist


Poly Styrene  (3 July 1957 – 25 April 2011),  (real name Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) was one of the most unique performers who came out of the punk era. Watch this video here

In this affectionate and revealing biography written by Poly’s daughter Celeste Bell and writer Zoe Howe , we get an insight into her life as told by those were  closest to her,  including her sister, ex-husband, friends and many others who  were part of her life.

Her mother was white, her father from Somalia. As her sister Hazel says life was difficult for her Mum Joan. “It was bad enough being a single mother. Being a single mother with half-black children, the whole community shunned her.” They grew  up in Brixton and big sister Poly (or Mari as she was known then) looked after her  younger sister and brother whilst their mother worked. Her sister tells some lovely…

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