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!