Lynsey Hanley

Author / Journalist

Add to shortlist


Agent: Caroline Dawnay
Associate Agent: Kat Aitken


Lynsey Hanley was born in Birmingham and lives in Liverpool. She is the author of ESTATES: AN INTIMATE HISTORY, and RESPECTABLE: THE EXPERIENCE OF CLASS. She is a regular contributor to the Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement.


'Articulate, savage, poignant, engaged and vividly descriptive' Sunday Times

'She describes [her estate] memorably in passages that read more like Lorna Sage's Bad Blood or Andrea Ashworth's Once a House on Fire than as a work of sociology' Blake Morrison, Guardian

'Lynsey Hanley's vivid, powerful book is about a dream gone sour. Her descriptions of hopelessness, drunkenness and yobbery in Tower Hamlets cry out to be engraved by a new Hogarth' Independent

'Moving and forthright ... The heart of Hanley's book lies in her vivid descriptions of how the physical walls of council estates can create and sustain what she calls "walls in the head" ... It's partly harrowing and partly cheering and it's a tale that's well worth keeping somewhere in mind when next you're laughing at Vicky Pollard' Observer

'Hanley's Estates is many things - social history, memoir, mild polemic ... she catalogues her experience in a manner that is honest, informed and never whimsical.  A well-times and truthful book.'  Daily Telegraph




Publication DetailsNotes



Allen Lane

Class remains resolutely with us, as strongly as it did fifty years ago, and with it the idea of aspiration, of social mobility, which received wisdom tells us is an unequivocally positive phenomenon, for individuals and for society as a whole. Yet for the many millions who experience it, changing class is like emigrating from one side of the world to another: a lonely, anxious, psychologically disruptive process of uprooting, which leaves people divided between the place they left and the place they have to inhabit in order to get on. In this empathic, wry and passionate exploration of class in Britain today, Lynsey Hanley looks at how people are kept apart, and keep themselves apart - and the costs involved in the journey from 'there' to 'here'.




Lynsey Hanley was raised just outside of Birmingham on one of the largest council estates in Europe, and lived for years on an estate in London's East End. Writing with passion, humour and a sense of history, she tells the story of estates in Britain through the prism of her own experience, challenges the stereotypes that estates have in Britain, and asks why homes that were built to improve people's lives ended up, in many cases, doing the opposite.