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Maggie & Me

Written by Damian Barr

  • 256 Pages
  • 9781770893818
  • BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs



Publication Date April 29, 2013

Long-listed for the Green Carnation Prize and The Sunday Times' selection for Memoir of the Year.

"This amazing book tells the story of an appalling childhood with truth and clarity unsmudged by self-pity. It grips from beginning to end." — Diana Athill, Costa Book Award–winning author of Somewhere Towards the End

Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes crossed with Billy Elliot, Maggie & Me is a unique, tender, and witty memoir of surviving the tough streets of small town Scotland during the Thatcher years.

October 12, 1984. An IRA bomb blows apart the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Miraculously, Maggie Thatcher survives. In small-town Scotland, eight-year-old Damian Barr watches in horror as his mum rips her wedding ring off and packs their bags. He knows he, too, must survive.

Damian, his sister, and his Catholic mum move in with her sinister new boyfriend while his Protestant dad shacks up with the glamorous Mary the Canary. Divided by sectarian suspicion, the community is held together by the sprawling Ravenscraig Steelworks. But darkness threatens as Maggie takes hold: she snatches school milk, smashes the unions, and makes greed good. Following Maggie's advice, Damian works hard and plans his escape. He discovers that stories can save your life and — in spite of violence, strikes, AIDS, and Clause 28 — manages to fall in love dancing to Madonna in Glasgow's only gay club.

Maggie & Me is a touching and darkly witty memoir about surviving Thatcher's Britain; a story of growing up gay in a straight world and coming out the other side in spite of, and maybe because of, the Iron Lady.

Long-listed for the Green Carnation Prize 2013

Selected for the The Sunday Times' Memoir of the Year 2013


Damian Barr
Damian Barr has been a journalist for more than ten years writing mostly for The Times but also the Independent, the Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Evening Standard, and Granta. He is the author of Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis, and has co-written two plays for BBC Radio 4. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Faculty at the School of Life, and host of the infamous Shoreditch House Literary Salon. He lives in Brighton, U.K. Twitter: @Damian_Barr


"Maggie & Me is a tremendous, surprising read.... [it's] a book that's hard to put down, laugh out loud funny and profoundly moving." British GQ

"... a fine memoir about the drama, pain and humour of growing up gay, gifted and poor... [Barr] has an uncanny ability to employ wit to flip you from a wince to a smile -- and sometimes right back again. When need be, he conveys maximum visceral impact, like a Scottish Frank McCourt of Angela's Ashes fame." Winnipeg Free Press

"This memoir of deprivation and survival is shrewdly constructed and written with a winning dry humour." Guardian

"He has an uncanny ability to employ wit to flip you from a wince to a smile -- and sometimes right back again. [Barr] conveys maximum visceral impact, like a Scottish Frank McCourt of Angela's Ashes fame. You can smell the booze, the rot and the stench, feel the cold and the damp, sense the grit and filth of a blasted urban-industrial landscape." Winnipeg Free Press

"Undoubtedly, many readers will be riled at the thought of this positive spin on Thatcher, but Barr is writing from his own, unique perspective - he knows she almost screwed his life up completely, but also acknowledges that she was a glimmer of light in the darkness. It’s a compelling read, which I thoroughly recommend." The Herald Scotland

" excellent read, and a vital reminder of how much we are shaped by the culture which surrounds us." Huffington Post

"It’s too bad [Margaret Thatcher] didn’t live to read this book. She’d have been proud of Barr’s resilience—and his generosity of spirit." Maclean's

"The writing is beautiful...the evocation of his childhood tender and affectionate, the summoning up of a particular time and place pin-sharp. A poignant and often humorous memoir, full of energy and life." The Sunday Times

" affecting memoir without cliches." The Independent