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To the estate born

Lynsey Hanley's "intimate history" of British estates is strong on autobiography and social history, less so on the racial element of modern public housing

By David Robins   February 2007

Estates: An Intimate History by Lynsey Hanley Granta Books, £12

Lynsey Hanley, who grew up on the huge Chelmsley Wood estate just outside Birmingham, has written an impassioned personal-cum-political account of the story of public housing in Britain. In the great tradition of working-class autobiography, there is a tone of “this is me, this is who I am” in the authorial voice, along with a touch of chip on shoulder. “It’s hard to explain why I feel so strongly about housing in this way,” she writes, “other than I know I had a lucky escape where others did not, and…

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