An Intimate History

Lynsey Hanley

Published: 4 May 2017
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 288 pages
ISBN: 9781783783823


Lynsey Hanley was born and raised just outside of Birmingham on what was then the largest council estate in Europe, and she has lived for years on an estate in London's East End. Writing with passion, humour and a sense of history, she recounts the rise of social housing a century ago, its adoption as a fundamental right by leaders of the social welfare state in the mid-century and its decline - as both idea and reality - in the 1960s and '70s. Throughout, Hanley focuses on how shifting trends in urban planning and changing government policies - from Homes Fit for Heroes to Le Corbusier's concrete tower blocks, to the Right to Buy - affected those so often left out of the argument over council estates: the millions of people who live on them. What emerges is a vivid mix of memoir and social history, an engaging and illuminating book about a corner of society that the rest of Britain has left in the dark.

About the author

Image of Lynsey Hanley

Lynsey Hanley was born in Birmingham and now lives in London. She regularly writes for the Observer, Telegraph, New Statesman and many others. Estates: An Intimate History is her first book. More about the author


‘[A] celebrated slice of myth-busting’



Estates, a journey through the world of British social housing, is both a history and a personal reckoning’

‘A rich, thought-provoking book’

‘A wonderful book ... explains with verve and insight how one's mental landscape is moulded by physical environment ... Simple lessons for planners, architects and developers leap off the pages’

‘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-timed and truthful book’

‘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’

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