Lowborn
What does it really mean to be poor in Britain today? A prizewinning novelist revisits her childhood and some of the country's most deprived towns 'When every day of your life you have been told you have nothing of value to offer, that you are worth nothing to society, can you ever escape that sense of being ‘lowborn’ no matter how far you’ve come?’ Kerry Hudson is proudly working class but she was never proudly poor. The poverty she grew up in was all-encompassing, grinding and often dehumanising. Always on the move with her single mother, Kerry attended nine primary schools and five secondaries, living in B&Bs and council flats. She scores eight out of ten on the Adverse Childhood Experiences measure of childhood trauma. Twenty years later, Kerry’s life is unrecognisable. She’s a prizewinning novelist who has travelled the world. She has a secure home, a loving partner and access to art, music, film and books. But she often finds herself looking over her shoulder, caught somehow between two worlds.Lowborn is Kerry’s exploration of where she came from, revisiting the towns she grew up in to try to discover what being poor really means in Britain today and whether anything has changed. She also journeys into the hardest regions of her own childhood, because sometimes in order to move forwards we first have to look back.

Lowborn Details

TitleLowborn
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 16th, 2019
PublisherChatto & Windus
ISBN-139781784742454
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Politics, European Literature, British Literature

Lowborn Review

  • Simon
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t feel I can put into words how brilliant and important (a cliche I know, but true) this memoir is. Kerry goes back to the places of her youth where she grew up in poverty and looks into her memories, how they’ve shaped her (even in trauma) and how those places are now and the people in a similar situation. It’s frank, unflinching and thought provoking. I want everyone to read it.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    This is such a beautiful book and I hope Kerry is going to get all of the recognition she deserves for opening herself up like this. I've known for a while how sick I am of middle-class stories and "problems" and I hope this book will shock the publishing industry into really grasping what it already sort-of knows; that we need MORE WORKING CLASS STORIES. Beautifully and simply told through the here-and-now Kerry, looking back on who she was and how that affects her as an adult. I had to ration This is such a beautiful book and I hope Kerry is going to get all of the recognition she deserves for opening herself up like this. I've known for a while how sick I am of middle-class stories and "problems" and I hope this book will shock the publishing industry into really grasping what it already sort-of knows; that we need MORE WORKING CLASS STORIES. Beautifully and simply told through the here-and-now Kerry, looking back on who she was and how that affects her as an adult. I had to ration the book to make it last on holiday because I wanted to inhale it in one sitting.
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  • Anya Bramich
    January 1, 1970
    This is truly amazing. I can’t believe that someone could write such an utterly miserable story - a story of their own incredibly difficult life growing up in extreme poverty and neglect - and create something that is so rich, so engaging and so warm. This is Hudson’s memoir of growing up with a single mother, an erratic wider family, an absent father, some cruel step-father figures against a backdrop of frightening council estates and small, grey, towns. The book takes the reader through her ea This is truly amazing. I can’t believe that someone could write such an utterly miserable story - a story of their own incredibly difficult life growing up in extreme poverty and neglect - and create something that is so rich, so engaging and so warm. This is Hudson’s memoir of growing up with a single mother, an erratic wider family, an absent father, some cruel step-father figures against a backdrop of frightening council estates and small, grey, towns. The book takes the reader through her early life up to her teens and then supplements this with the re-visiting of many of the towns she spent time in. This is less social commentary and more about her story now and how she feels about those places and the people she meets along the way. It’s testament to the writer that there’s no real anger or judgement in the book. She tells her story as it is / was and the reader is left to their own thoughts. Although what you take away is the underlining feeling that things haven’t changed in time. Hudson managed to escape and use her amazing talent to write however it makes you think about the whole cycle of generations who aren’t as lucky.As soon as I finished this I started reading Hudson’s fiction novels and they are written just as beautifully as this.
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  • Stephen Baird
    January 1, 1970
    I first heard Kerry talk at a Vintage Roadshow at Forum Books, Corbridge before Christmas, this didn’t put me off though ;) and I was really fascinated by the concept of Lowborn.Earlier this year I went to another Vintage Roadshow and was pleased to be able to pick up an advance copy of this.It didn’t disappoint. It had me in tears, angry, upset, sad, but also laughing a lot due to the humour that came through.It’s taken me a while (and a second reading, well worth it) to get my thoughts togethe I first heard Kerry talk at a Vintage Roadshow at Forum Books, Corbridge before Christmas, this didn’t put me off though ;) and I was really fascinated by the concept of Lowborn.Earlier this year I went to another Vintage Roadshow and was pleased to be able to pick up an advance copy of this.It didn’t disappoint. It had me in tears, angry, upset, sad, but also laughing a lot due to the humour that came through.It’s taken me a while (and a second reading, well worth it) to get my thoughts together to write this review.The voice in this book is so honest, and due to my own past, familiar. Kerry writes about her past in some of the poorest communities in the UK, growing up in a family that doesn’t conform to the norms as seen in all the media that children consume and having to survive and hopefully grow from this. Then once she has gotten out, returning to explore emotions, personal history, and memories.There is a lot of wry humour in this book, but by far it is the raw imagery of a past coloured by emotional and financial difficulties, both systematic and familial, that took me straight back to my own childhood and will have you fearful the child in the ‘story’ and all the other children in stories like this all over the country now.The return to these communities is a huge emotional commitment and again is approached with wry humour and introspection, but also massive bravery. It hurts to have to explore the past like this.If you only read one book this month make sure it’s this one you will be amply rewarded.
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  • Harry McDonald
    January 1, 1970
    I love stories that document their own construction.About half of Lowborn is Kerry Hudson's attempts to write it; visiting the places she grew up in so that she can see what has changed and what hasn't. The other half is her memories of growing up in a series of council flats, houses and B&Bs up and down England and Scotland from birth to leaving for London at 18.I hate describing books as important but this one is. It's not a polemic, but it is angry. Hudson lets the statistics and anecdote I love stories that document their own construction.About half of Lowborn is Kerry Hudson's attempts to write it; visiting the places she grew up in so that she can see what has changed and what hasn't. The other half is her memories of growing up in a series of council flats, houses and B&Bs up and down England and Scotland from birth to leaving for London at 18.I hate describing books as important but this one is. It's not a polemic, but it is angry. Hudson lets the statistics and anecdotes speak for themselves, carefully placed within her own story though they are.I don't know what else to say apart from I found it incredibly powerful and moving and I hope it gets the attention it deserves.
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  • Lucy Cowans
    January 1, 1970
    I spotted this book at Waterloo station on a journey to revisit my own birthplace in the east end on London (somewhere that unlike the towns of Kerry’s childhood has been developed into something unrecognisable from the poor, slightly shameful addresses to a place that people flock to). It is a fabulously honest and unflinching portrayal of what it’s like to grow up facing hardship. It was refreshing to hear an author speak so frankly about the negatives they have faced and inspiring to hear tha I spotted this book at Waterloo station on a journey to revisit my own birthplace in the east end on London (somewhere that unlike the towns of Kerry’s childhood has been developed into something unrecognisable from the poor, slightly shameful addresses to a place that people flock to). It is a fabulously honest and unflinching portrayal of what it’s like to grow up facing hardship. It was refreshing to hear an author speak so frankly about the negatives they have faced and inspiring to hear that despite experiencing events that would make it easy to throw your hands in the air exclaiming “what’s the point” that Kerry remains optimistic and unapologetic for who she is.
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  • Ioulia
    January 1, 1970
    An inspiring book. It is so well-written and with such substance that I couldn’t get enough of it and wish it were double the length. Devastating, heart-warming, revealing, uplifting, it combines so many opposites yet brings them all together in a cohesive whole. It made me laugh and cry and rage and hope. Should be compulsory reading for politicians and policy makers. Also for memoir writers and social justice commentators. I just can’t praise it enough. All I will add is - read this book.
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  • KH WS
    January 1, 1970
    Full of unique yet relatable reflections on a life lived. Moving between tears and laughter every page it reminded me so much of my own life and the tragedy of the class divide. The layout of the book worked really well... Moving between the past and her journey back to those places as research for the book. A really special memoir and a must read for anyone with an interest in class (and what it means to be human). Buy it immediately!
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  • Heidi Gardner
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book I will likely never read again - it has made my heart clench up to the extent that I’m about to email the author. Incredible, important, and should be thrust into the hands of the entirety of the Conservative party.
  • Claire O'Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely outstanding. Rekindled so many memories. I couldn’t get it out of my mind and woke up at 4am to finish it and to have a little cry. Highly recommended.
  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written and telling a story that needs to be heard.
  • Amelia Barlow
    January 1, 1970
    A most necessary, honest and beautiful thing. 11/10
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