This Boy & Please, Mister Postman by Alan Johnson


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Ahead of the webchat with Alan Johnson, and to celebrate the publication of his latest memoir, The Long and Winding Road, we're offering up copies of the first two parts of Alan Johnson's acclaimed biography, This Boy and Please, Mister Postman.


About the books

This Boy

Alan Johnson's childhood was not so much difficult as unusual, particularly for a man who was destined to become Home Secretary. Not in respect of the poverty, which was shared with many of those living the slums of post-war Britain, but in its transition from two-parent family to single mother and then to no parents at all...

This Boy is one man's story, but it is also a story of England and the West London slums which are so hard to imagine in the capital today. No matter how harsh the details, Alan Johnson writes with a spirit of generous acceptance, of humour and openness which makes his book anything but a grim catalogue of miseries.


Please, Mister Postman

In July 1969, while the Rolling Stones played a free concert in Hyde Park, Alan Johnson and his young family left West London to start a new life. The Britwell Estate in Slough, apparently notorious among the locals, in fact came as a blessed relief after the tensions of Notting Hill, and the local community welcomed them with open arms. Alan had become a postman the previous year, and in order to support his growing family took on every bit of overtime he could, often working twelve-hour shifts six days a week. 

Please, Mister Postman paints a vivid picture of England in the 1970s, where smoking was the norm rather than the exception, and Sunday lunchtime was about beer, bingo and cribbage. But as Alan's life appears to be settling down and his career in the Union of Postal Workers begins to take off, his close-knit family is struck once again by tragedy...


Praise for This Boy

"Deeply moving and unforgettable" - Lynn Barber, Sunday Times

"Neither mawkish nor sentimental, it is an evocative, filmic account on an early childhood... would make a fabulous drama that, for all its squalor, lifts the spirits"  - Judith Woods, Daily Telegraph


Praise for Please, Mister Postman

"The best political testament I have ever read" - Peter Wilby New Statesman

"A fascinating piece of social history" - Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times



Photo credit: Nell Gunn


About the author

Alan Johnson was born in May 1950. He is a British Labour Party politician who served as Home Secretary from June 2009 to May 2010. Before that, he filled a wide variety of cabinet positions in both the Blair and Brown governments, including Health Secretary and Education Secretary. Until 20 January 2011 he was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. Johnson has been the Member of Parliament for Hull West and Hessle since 1997. His first book, This Boy, became a Sunday Times bestseller and won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize 2014 and the Orwell Prize 2014. 


Book giveaway

We've got 25 copies of This Boy and 25 copies of Please, Mister Postman to give away to Mumsnetters. This giveaway closes on at 2pm, Thursday 3 November.

If you would like to read one of the memoirs and join the webchat with Alan Johnson on 21 November (9-10pm) apply below, choosing which book you would like to read. However, you don't have to win a free copy to join - you can buy This Boy or Please, Mister Postman now.  



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