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The northern literary rebellion

How regional publishers are paving the path for working-class writers

By Shauna Lewis  
At work in John Rylands Library in Manchester. Credit: Paul Hodgson / Alamy Stock Photo

At work in John Rylands Library in Manchester. Credit: Paul Hodgson / Alamy Stock Photo

The publishing industry is facing a slow but sure reckoning with the practices that many writers feel have excluded and isolated them. The Big Four publishing houses—Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, and HarperCollins—are concentrated in the UK capital. But northern literary hubs have taken the lead in reducing class barriers for writers outside of London.

Claire Malcolm tells me there has been a “brain drain” to London among northern writers at least since the mid-1990s. Developing regional working-class talent was being ignored, Malcolm felt, so in 1996 she founded New Writing North, a regional talent development agency—the first…

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