Books written by Unite members

Beyond Pulditch Gates, written by Henry Hudson

Corner Kingdom, written by John Campbell

Keep it Dark, written by Will Jonson

.Henry Hudson , Beyond Pulditch Gates
  Beyond Pulditch Gates book cover
Published in 2001 by Greyhound Press
There are too few novels on work that are written by working class people. Henry Hudson was from 1969 to 1999 a worker in Dublin’s power industry. The Transport and General Workers Union member used his experiences to good effect in an amusing, occasionally hilarious, book that is based around three decades of construction worker Timmy Talbot’s life from the late 50s onwards.
Pulditch Gates power station is a bleak place made bearable by the camaraderie amongst those who work there. Each day is a constant battle of wits between the men and management. Amongst the latter is the husband of the daughter of one of Ireland’s richest men and who in addition to having unsuccessfully tried to force himself on Talbot’s wife, Patsy, has also left her former friend pregnant and imprisoned in a convent for ‘wayward women.’
When a mix-up ensures Talbot and his mates end up getting permanent jobs they use their good fortune to collectively organise for better pay and conditions. But, as Ireland’s economy hits rock bottom they find themselves chucked in jail for threatening electricity supplies. The court rooms scenes in which they are sent down, their imprisonment and their release under a shoddy, compromise deal are amongst the best bits in the book and are highly amusing.
Other scenes will also hit a chord with Irish workers who can recall the 60s and 70s when management’s ‘right to manage’ and a lack of abortion rights were challenged. Hudson’s novel thus celebrates the lives of those men and women who challenged poverty, ignorance and fear.

If you have had a book published & would like to see it reviewed here then please contact Mark Metcalf on 07952 801783 or at

.John Campbell, Corner Kingdom
Corner Kingdom book cover C
Published by Lagan Press, 1999

In what was his first novel, John Campbell’s three decades at Belfast’s docks until 1985 helped him construct an interesting story about youngster Jim Harvey’s first job on the docks in the early 50s.

It is a harsh, sometimes desperate, often violent world set in the pubs, terrace streets, docks and warehouses of Sailorstown. There is fierce competition for hard working manual jobs and Jim Harvey is lucky to have the support of family members on the docks as well as one of the roughest men working there. Only much later do we find out why.

The parts on racism, sexism and domestic violence are difficult reading, but would be familiar with many people brought up in numerous working-class communities in this period. 

The main characters are by no means revered though and to Campbell’s credit he refuses to lapse into sentimentality whilst skilfully creating a series of believable persons not lacking in humanity.

* Retired Unite member John Campbell’s second novel was also published by Lagan Press in 2006 and is titled THE DISINHERITED -  a sailortown novel.

If you have had a book published & would like to see it reviewed here then please contact Mark Metcalf on 07952 801783 or at

Keep it Dark front coverWill Jonson, Keep it Dark
Published by Red Axe Books
This is a very impressive debut novel by Unite community member, Will Jonson. Keep it Dark articulately brings to life some momentous 20th century political events such as the Spanish Civil War, the Battle of Stalingrad 1942-43, the Holocaust, the Soviet Union invasions of Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan and the shipyard occupations, strikes and riots in 1970s and 80s Britain.
Just eight, Tommy embarrassingly catches his Uncle Jack, often the butt of family jokes for having served in the Merchant Navy during the World War, sobbing his heart out. Tommy grows up loving books. Jack has lots of them. Young and old become close friends. As Tommy develops an understanding of why Jack was so distressed he is transported back to the 1930s when his uncle left Britain alongside his best friend, Robbie, to join the International Brigades and fight against Franco, and his fascist allies, in Spain.
Both fighters forge intense, brief, relationships with two Russian female crack snipers, whose socialist beliefs are ultimately crushed by a combination of fascism and a Soviet system where the working class was unable to establish its authority over the state bureaucracy.
If the tale itself is therefore heavy, and ultimately tragic, the telling of it is certainly not. All the main characters have real loving warmth to them and as the tale moves across Europe, Jonson’s successful combination of the personal with the political is highly emotive. The scene descriptions are also believable and there is sufficient of a twist to the tale to keep the reader seeking answers. Keep it Dark is certainly worth reading.

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The author – Will Jonson is a pseudonym for David Wheeler, who worked for many years as a teacher before retiring on ill-health grounds. Born in 1957 in London, David now lives in Lincolnshire and joined Unite community because (unlike the NUT) it is affiliated to the Labour Party and he was impressed by the number of Unite members on an anti-cuts march he attended in London. He is currently working on his second novel but in the meantime he has started publishing out of copyright books by famous writers such as Jack London and William Blake. See for example:-
If you have had a book published & would like to see it reviewed here then please contact Mark Metcalf on 07952 801783 or at