Fame Is The Spur [Howard Spring]
The Great Mancunian Novel, perhaps. You could certainly argue it, Mary Barton being something of a practice attempt as far as Elizabeth Gaskell is concerned, The Manchester Man offering a rags-to-riches fairytale at odds with the tide of social history. Howard Spring’s 1940 epic, on the other hand, digs deep into some key Mancunian tropes…it’s been noted how fiction set in the city can so often reflect betrayal of the people by its planners, politicians and leaders.
Hamer Shawcross is the Ancoats lad who rises from nothing to become first socialist firebrand, then Labour minister, then pillar of the establishment and member of the House of Lords, keeping with him across the arc of his life an old sabre once stolen from a soldier on Peterloo field. As rabble-rousing gives rise to power, principles sold, subduing the miners, slashing the dole and entering coalition with the Tories it’s commonplace to view Shawcross as a cipher for Ramsay Macdonald; more perceptive to consider him a metaphor for the Labour Party as a whole.