Critics praise for Sheffield author

editorial image
Have your say

A BOOK describing everyday life in Sheffield during the 1950s is gaining rave reviews from some of the most influential names in literature.

Michael Glover’s Headlong Into Pennilessness tells the story of a local lad’s threadbare existence growing up at 45 Coningsby Road, Fir Vale.

It has been described as ‘charming and fascinating’ by the highly respected former chairman of the Poetry Society Sebastian Barker, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature,

Celebrated poet and publisher Charles Boyle described the book as an ‘unacknowledged classic’.

The portrayal of a make-do-and-mend world also gained a glowing reference from Bill Hamilton, literary agent of double Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel.

He describes the book as a ‘vivid and true’ account of working class families struggling in Northern Britain during the post-war austerity years.

New York painter David Hornung said: “Michael Glover uses vivid detail to recreate his early life in the Sheffield of the 1950s and 60s.

“It’s an unsentimental, good humoured but deeply human story told with affection for the characters, places, and events that shaped him.”

Michael said: “I’m absolutely thrilled by the reaction to the book so far.

“It was written impulsively, and at some speed. What surprised me most of all was how much you remember when you begin to peel back the layers of the past.”

Michael was one of six crammed into the two-bedroom terraced house, without a bathroom and with just one outside lavatory.

But Michael has fond memories of his childhood home and developed a strange attachment to the tiny, unremarkable house - even to the cramped kitchen which was the hub of family life and its ferocious arguments over money.

He also recalls the unheated front room that was only ever used at Christmas and the outside toilet with its neatly torn strips of the Radio Times attached to an old coat hanger.

Michael said: “Fir Vale itself was full of the drabness of those post-war years of want and austerity – polio victims in their leg irons in the street, the smells of the unwashed.”

Young Michael grew up never knowing his father Sid Glover who returned from Burma quite a different man, in appearance and temperament, from the one who had left to join the Army in 1939.

As a consequence his mother Dorothy trusted no one and nothing – banks, foreigners, the family next door and, most of all, her husband to whom she was soon divorced.

The author recalls Guy Fawkes Night and Whitsuntide parades as he remembers the first 19 years of his life in Sheffield – including the impact of the sight and sounds of the young Dylan, Beatles and Roy Orbison at Sheffield

Michael took his inspiration from Stanley Cook, his English teacher at Firth Park Grammar School.

And the story tells how his teacher’s guidance helped the young pupil gain a scholarship to Cambridge, and go on to a life as editor of Mirror Books, award-winning poet, and art critic of the Independent in London.

n Headlong Into Pennilessness is £9.95 and is available to buy in The Star Shop on York Street.