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  • Published: 2 May 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473556423
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256


Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain's Poorest Towns

A powerful, personal, agenda-changing work of non-fiction on poverty in Britain from acclaimed novelist, activist and columnist Kerry Hudson

'Totally engrossing and deliciously feisty' Bernardine Evaristo

A powerful, personal agenda-changing exploration of poverty in today's Britain.

'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. She revisits the towns she grew up in to try to discover what being poor really means in Britain today and whether anything has changed.

'One of the most important books of the year' Guardian

  • Published: 2 May 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473556423
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

About the author

Kerry Hudson

Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Her first novel, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma, won the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust First Book Award and was shortlisted for an array of prizes including the Guardian First Book Award and the Sky Arts Awards. Thirst, her second novel, won the prestigious prix Femina etranger. Lowborn is her first work of non-fiction, and her journey has led to a highly successful column for the Pool. She currently lives in Liverpool.

Also by Kerry Hudson

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Praise for Lowborn

I've been in thrall to the words of Kerry Hudson since reading the very first sentence of her spectacularly good debut novel. I'm so glad she is writing Lowborn. It's an important book that needs to exist and she is exactly the right person to write it. The hideous divisiveness that the horror that is Brexit has both revealed and fuelled, only makes this book more necessary

Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of THE LAST ACT OF LOVE

There are few writers who use their work to shine a light on working class lives, and fewer still who use their success, as Kerry herself said recently in the Guardian, "to send the elevator back down" to help those waiting in the basement to make their way up. Kerry Hudson is one of those writers who stands out for her empathy and passion and her tireless championing of the excluded

Paul McVeigh, author of THE GOOD SON

Kerry's Lowborn columns are amongst the things of which I am most proud on The Pool. (And that's saying something.) For a long time we had agonised about how to tackle the ever-more-critical issues of class and poverty in this country. Kerry's columns strike the perfect note between activist and emotional, personal and political, memoir and manifesto

Sam Baker, founder of the POOL

Kerry Hudson takes us to the places we'd rather not think about - literally and emotionally. She challenges us to think anew about poverty in the here and now using her own experiences but also looking past it and refusing to look away or offer lazy solutions. Her writing is as urgent as her cause and I wish there had been a Kerry Hudson to light the way for me

Damian Barr, author of MAGGIE & ME and YOU WILL BE SAFE HERE

Be it fiction, memoir or journalism Kerry Hudson gives a voice to the working classes that is heartfelt, thought-provoking, wryly funny and honest. Because she's lived and breathed it.

Simon Savidge, Blogger and Vlogger

The novelist looks back at her impoverished childhood, and travels around Britain asking what being poor means today


In a country bruised by years of austerity, writers are still exploring class and inequality. Kerry Hudson's memoir Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain's Poorest Towns.arrives with a sense of urgency

New Statesman

An exploration of what being working class in Britain really means - and a moving portrait of personal survival


A remarkable and vital book

Andrew McMillan

I cannot imagine a more important or beautifully written book in 2019

Christie Watson, author of The Language of Kindness

One of the most important books of the year

Nikesh Shukla, Guardian

Kerry Hudson invites us to really understand the complexities of being born working class in Britain. Buy it, read it, tell everyone about it

Jack Monroe

As food banks proliferate and funded support shrinks, Hudson's memoir draws our attention to all of the stories that slip through the cracks in a thoroughly personal and captivating way

Lynsey May, The List

What does it mean to be poor in Britain today? Hudson, now a successful author, goes back to where she grew up and examines how her childhood in poverty shaped her. An honest memoir that touches on the author's struggle to reconcile the two very different worlds she belongs to

Joanne Finney, Good Housekeeping

Kerry Hudson blew me away, opened my eyes

Philippa Perry, author of The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read, You're Booked

Elegant, compassionate and powerful. tells the hidden story of what it means to be poor in Britain today

Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Express

Lowborn is in part an indictment of a country that claims to still have a functioning welfare state. Most of all, it is a moving portrait of the survival and eventual flourishing of a remarkable spirit

John Harris, Guardian

Fragile, combative. A road trip around places she grew up in, it lifts the lid on the pressures of poverty

Anthony Cummins, Metro

Beautifully written but with emotional hand grenades detonating on almost every page.a breathtaking odyssey

Stephen McGinty, Sunday Times

Paints a near-dystopian portrait of Brexit-age Britain. Lowborn is a powerful testimonial. Here's hoping it gives others the courage to tell their version of this story, at high volume

Peter Murphy, Irish Times

Compelling, fascinating and well-written, undeniably grim but peppered with humour and tenderness...Hudson demonstrates that only by lifting whole communities out of poverty...can we hope to avoid consigning children and young people like her - vulnerable and blameless - to the worst of lives

Kit de Waal, Daily Telegraph

A vivid account of growing up in poverty

Maureen Duffy, Tablet

Lowborn is an insider's view of the complexities of modern-day poverty, written with humour and compassion, but without judgement. It should be required reading for anyone who unknowingly believes poverty is a personal choice and that if you work hard enough you'll avoid its fate. a fearless writer, an inspiring woman

Jackie Annesley, Sunday Times

Hudson has written a moving and readable account of growing up in the poorest section of society. Her book is also a meditation on social mobility. Hudson's life is proof that a person can, against the odds, make a success of themselves. In Lowborn, she shows us very clearly why so many do not

James Bloodworth, The Times

I wish I'd had access to such honest and relatable work as Hudson's when I was younger. She proves that successful women can have a working-class story

Hollie Richardson, Stylist

Moving and beautifully written


Where there are few working-class stories, there are fewer still from working-class women. Lowborn stands out as rare, as well as compassionately and skilfully told. Some books help us understand the world around us. Others do that, and make us feel less alone in it, too. Lowborn is one such book, holding out a hand of friendship to anyone who might pick it up and find something forgotten or familiar among its pages

Laura Waddell, Scotsman

Lowborn bears witness to a society that Hudson says is structurally and systematically marginalising the poor. As a first-hand account of communities struggling to stay on their feet, it makes a moving, revealing read

Morning Star

Brave and beautifully written

Beverley Rouse, UK Press Syndication

Beautifully written. [Lowborn is] an unflinching look back at an upbringing filled with poverty, violence and the judgement of others, and an important call to arms about the way in which we live now, which asks us to consider what being poor really feels like


This memoir is a vivid account of growing up in poverty. and the changes needed

Marta Bausells, ELLE

Lowborn is a timely account of the impact poverty has every day on communities and a reminder that urban poverty both shaped and continues to shape people's lives

Huston Gilmore, Daily Express

A vivid, highly personal memoir set against the backdrop of a still broken welfare system. a powerful book. Lowborn is.about the masks that working-class people are forced to wear as the move among people who, even well meaningly, deny and diminish their experiences

Barbara Ellen, Observer

[A] brave and beautifully written book

Beverly Rouse, Catholic Universe

It's voices like Kerry Hudson's that we need to hear more from, people who can really write and who have something to say, something lived, something with heart, redemption and epiphany. Voices with depth and intelligence and nuanced thinking who can tell the rest of us, whether through fiction or memoir, this happened, it happened to me, it isn't right, it shouldn't have happened then and it shouldn't be happening now

New European

Absolutely beautiful

Stanley Tucci

The award-winning novelist's powerful memoir is both a devastating account of how growing up in poverty can affect every aspect of your life and an important look at how we continue to overlook and ignore those we consider "lowborn"

Sarah Hughes, i magazine, *Summer Reads of 2019*

Her words shine a light on what it really means to live in poverty today. You may not want to hear it, but you won't be able to switch off

Nuala McCann, Irish Times

A shocking reminder of the abuse and abbreviated childhoods that many suffer in Britain

Colin Grant, Times Literary Supplement

The result? Lowborn is an incredibly vulnerable yet powerful book. Raw and tough, but full of hope, it's gripping from start to finish


Lowborn is the opposite of a misery memoir. The chapters alternate between Hudson's raw memories and accounts of her present-day attempts to confront them. There's warmth and courage as well as pain and ultimately triumph here

New Statesman

[Lowborn] provides a revelatory insight into her [Hudson's] past and into poverty in Britain today

Guardian, *Summer Reads of 2019*

A searing memoir which lays bare the dehumanising effects of poverty. But it is also a story about resilience. Don't look away, read this book

Herald, *Summer Read of 2019*

An indelible, clear-eyed account of just how corrosive true poverty can be. [an] important book. a remarkable story, and a powerful, heartfelt call to action

Stephanie Cross, Lady

An essential read

Stylist Remarkable Women Awards 2020

A frank, personal story of Britain's impoverished hidden millions

Claire Allfree, Metro, *Books of the Year*

If there were any justice in the world, there would be a copy of Hudson's powerful examination of her impoverished upbringing and why it continues to resonate under every politician's Christmas tree

Sarah Hughes, i Books of the Year

This book inspired me. [it] made me want to get up, fight back and claim what I want from life. Everyone should read this book

Wendy Pratt, Northern Soul, *Books of the Year*

A book that cuts like a knife

Jenny Colgan, Spectator

One of the most important books of the year


I loved Lowborn... A powerful exploration of Hudson's working-class childhood and its legacy

David Nicholls, author of One Day

Totally engrossing and deliciously feisty...It really brings home how under-represented working class lives and impoverished childhoods have been in our literary culture'

Bernadine Evaristo

Hudson's resilience, grace and humility is staggering. She's an absolute inspiration

Douglas Stewart, Herald

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