Ten must-read Manchester books that will fill you with civic pride

Manchester is a city known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and resilient people.

From music and literature to theatre and politics, the city has produced some of the most influential and creative figures in British culture.

In this article, we take a look at some of the best books from Manchester that capture the unique character of the city and its people.

These books offer a fascinating insight into the history, culture, and identity of Manchester, and are sure to make you proud to be a Mancunian.

Mancunians – David Scott 

Pic: Trust-A-Fox Photography

Mancunians by David Scott is a book that explores the unique character of the people of Manchester. Through a series of personal interviews with local residents, Scott provides an insightful and engaging portrait of the city’s diverse population. The book covers a wide range of topics, including politics, culture, religion, and social issues. Scott’s interviews reveal the resilience, humour, and creativity that define the Mancunian spirit, and provide a fascinating insight into what makes the city and its people so special. Mancunians is a compelling read for anyone interested in the social fabric of modern cities and the people who call them home.

You can go to a special event at Deansgate Waterstones this week and meet the man who wrote it.

Get tickets here. 


Manchester Unspun – Andy Spinoza 

Manchester Unspun by Andy Spinoza is a book that explores the rich history and culture of Manchester. The book is divided into six sections that cover different aspects of the city’s history and culture, including music, politics, sport, and architecture. Spinoza provides a unique and personal perspective on the city, having lived there for over 30 years. Through personal anecdotes, historical research, and interviews with local residents, he offers a comprehensive and engaging overview of Manchester’s character, creativity, and resilience. Manchester Unspun is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the challenges and opportunities facing modern cities.

Manchester, England: The Story of the Pop Cult City by Dave Haslam

Manchester, England: The Story of the Pop Cult City is a book written by Dave Haslam, which chronicles the city’s cultural and musical history. The book explores Manchester’s music scene from the 1960s to the present day, highlighting the key artists and movements that have shaped the city’s identity. Haslam draws on his own experiences as a DJ and music journalist, as well as interviews with other musicians and cultural figures, to provide a vivid and engaging portrait of Manchester’s pop culture. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the city’s history and the role that music has played in its development.

Little Wilson and Big God by Anthony Burgess

Little Wilson and Big God is an autobiographical work by Anthony Burgess, which covers the period of his life from his birth in 1917 to the publication of his first novel in 1956. The book explores Burgess’s early years in Manchester, his experiences during World War II, and his struggles as a writer. Burgess provides a frank and often humorous account of his life, and offers insights into his creative process and the themes that would come to define his work. Little Wilson and Big God is a compelling read for anyone interested in Burgess’s life and the influences that shaped his writing.

Mancunia by Michael Symmons Roberts

Mancunia is a poetry collection by Michael Symmons Roberts that explores the history, culture, and identity of Manchester, England. Through a series of lyrical and evocative poems, Roberts reflects on the city’s industrial past, its vibrant music scene, and the unique character of its people. He also touches on contemporary issues such as urban renewal, immigration, and social inequality. Mancunia offers a powerful and nuanced portrait of one of England’s most dynamic and fascinating cities, and is a must-read for anyone who loves Manchester or is interested in the intersection of poetry and place.

A Taste of Honey – Shelagh Delaney 

A Taste of Honey is a ground-breaking play by Shelagh Delaney, first performed in 1958. Set in working-class Manchester, the play tells the story of Jo, a teenage girl who lives with her neglectful mother and falls in love with a black sailor. Along the way, she grapples with issues such as poverty, race, and gender roles. Delaney’s play was notable for its frank portrayal of working-class life and its use of unconventional characters and themes. A Taste of Honey is widely regarded as a classic of post-war British theatre and continues to be performed and studied today.

The Manchester Man – Isabella Banks 

The Manchester Man is a historical novel by Isabella Banks, first published in 1876. The novel is set in Manchester, England during the 19th century and follows the life of Jabez Clegg, a working-class man who rises to wealth and success through his hard work and determination. Along the way, he encounters various obstacles, including class prejudice, political unrest, and personal tragedy. Banks’ novel is notable for its detailed and vivid portrayal of life in 19th century Manchester, as well as its themes of social justice, industrialization, and the power of the individual to overcome adversity. The Manchester Man remains a classic of Victorian literature and a fascinating window into the history of one of England’s most important cities.

Manchester: Something Rich and Strange by Candia McWilliam

Manchester: Something Rich and Strange is a non-fiction book by Candia McWilliam, published in 2013. The book is a love letter to the city of Manchester, England, exploring its history, architecture, music, literature, and culture. McWilliam delves into Manchester’s industrial past, its role in the rise of the suffragette movement, and its vibrant contemporary art scene. She also reflects on her own personal experiences in the city, having spent time there as a student and later as a writer. Manchester: Something Rich and Strange is a beautifully written and deeply personal portrait of a city that has long captivated the hearts and imaginations of its residents and visitors alike.

Manchester: Looking for the Light Through the Pouring Rain by Kevin Cummins 

Showing Manchester: Looking for the Light Through the Pouring Rain is a captivating photographic journey through the streets of Manchester by renowned photographer Kevin Cummins. With over 300 photographs spanning three decades, the book captures the spirit and essence of Manchester, a city that has been at the forefront of music, fashion and culture. From iconic shots of Joy Division and The Smiths to candid snapshots of everyday life in the city, Cummins’ stunning black and white images offer a unique and intimate portrait of Manchester. The book is a celebration of both the city and Cummins’ incredible talent as a photographer.

Madonna of Bolton by Matt Cain

“Madonna of Bolton” by Matt Cain is a heartwarming coming-of-age novel that tells the story of Charlie Matthews, a young boy from Bolton who dreams of becoming a writer and meeting his idol, Madonna. Despite facing bullying and prejudice for his sexuality, Charlie is determined to follow his dreams and move to London. With the support of his close-knit family and friends, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery and learns to embrace his true self. Set against the backdrop of the 1980s and 90s, this novel is a nostalgic celebration of love, friendship, and pop culture.

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