Protest: Stories of Resistance

Edited by Ra Page


Whatever happened to British protest?

For a nation that brought the world Chartism, the Suffragettes, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, and so many other grassroots social movements, Britain rarely celebrates its long, great tradition of people power. In this timely and evocative collection, twenty authors have assembled to re-imagine key moments of British protest, from the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 to the anti-Iraq War demo of 2003. Written in close consultation with historians, sociologists and eyewitnesses – who also contribute afterwords – these stories follow fictional characters caught up in real-life struggles, offering a streetlevel perspective on the noble art of resistance. In the age of fake news and post-truth politics this book fights fiction with (well researched, historically accurate) fiction.


Sara Maitland and Prof. Jane Whittle on THE PEASANT'S REVOLT
Holly Pester and Dr. Steve Hindle on THE MIDLANDS RISING
Matthew Holness and Dr. John Rees and Prof. Mark Stoyle on THE DIGGERS
Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Dr. Ariel Hessayon on VENNER'S RISING
Andy Hedgecock and Dr. Kartina Navickas on THE PENTRICH LUDDITES
Laura Hird and Dr. Gordon Pentland on the RADICAL WAR
Mish Green and Elizabeth Crawford on THE SUFFRAGETTES
Sandra Alland and Dr Francis Salt on the NATIONAL BLIND MARCH
Stuart Evers and Dr Michael Randle on the ALDERMASTON MARCHES
Kit de Waal and Avtar Jouhl on MALCOLM X in SMETHWICK
Alexei Sayle and Rusell Hickman on the ANTI-VIETNAM WAR DEMO
David and Stephen Constantine on the ANTI-RIVERS OF BLOOD MARCH
Maggie Gee and Prof Sally Alexander on the NIGHT CLEANERS' STRIIKE
Francesca Rhydderch and Ned Thomas on the WELSH LANGUAGE PROTESTS
Jacob Ross and Prof. Stephen Reicher on the NEW CROSS FIRE & THE BRIXTON RIOTS
Joanna Quinn and Lyn Barlow on GREENHAM COMMON
Martyn Bedford and Prof. David Waddington on the BATTLE OF ORGREAVE
Juliet Jacques and Dr. Em Temple-Malt on SECTION 28
Courttia Newland and Dr. John Drury on the POLL TAX RIOT
Kate Clanchy and Prof. Laleh Khalili on the ANTI-IRAQ WAR DEMO

This project has been supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust and the Lipman-Miliband Trust, as well as Arts Council England.

Listen to the audiobook exclusively on Audible HERE.
Listen to Series 1 of The Comma Press Podcast HERE, featuring roundtable discussions between Protest authors, historical consultants and activists. 


Listen to editor Ra Page discuss the project on Radio 4's 'Open Book', earlier in the year.

Ra Page writes for The Guardian about the decade of unrest which inspired the anthology, and how he went about commissioning the stories which feature in it.

'The variety of voices and subjects create a series of ever moving perspectives, but they unite around one focal point: our collective experiences of oppressions and our political responses to them. The book largely ignores leaders and icons and instead looks to the people, engaging in a bottom-up myth-making that is about the collective rather than the individual.' - Glasgow Review of Books

'As the book enters the 20th Century, the chapters become infused with an awareness of the inequalities and discrimination of our age, becoming a call to action. The variety of storytelling ensures that the protests don't feel indistinct or hopeless, yet the injustices described feel depressingly familiar' - The New Statesman

'When right-wing populism is seemingly sweeping the west this whistle-stop tour demonstrates the power of people and provides a glimmer of hope and inspiration.' - Antonia Charlesworth, Big Issue North

kaleidoscopic feast... A great gathering of voices, a dispersal of perspectives' - The Skinny

'[T]he commentaries that follow are never less than fascinating' - Structo Magazine

It would be heartening to see more works of historical fiction inspired by Comma Press’s approach, serving both to educate and entertain by giving voice once again to people who struggled to make their voices heard in challenging circumstances. ' - Bethany Creamer, Disclaimer Magazine

There are so many good short stories and accompanying essays here, it is difficult to leave any unmentioned. Tales by Frank Cottrell Boyce on Venner’s Rising, Maggie Gee on the Night Cleaners’ strike, Martyn Bedford on the Battle of Orgreave, and Joanna Quinn on Greenham Common are all thoroughly absorbing and enlightening. Protest is an important collection highlighting the history of dissenting voices in the UK. It teaches rather than preaches and should be required reading for many of our current politicians.' - Shirley Whiteside, Book Oxygen

'Protest: Stories of Resistance is an illuminating and essential read. The perfect inter-generational birthday or Christmas present, it joins up the dots and gives context, which is invariably missing from disdainful, market-led Media narratives, and rote-learning history ordained by successive governments. Buy it and read it!' - Georgia DC, Book of the Week on Bookblast

'Page has worked up a fantastic range of established and emerging talent... striking and often unforgettable contributions' - Mslexia Max Forum/Floralia

The whole anthology is a fine memorial to those tens of thousands of ordinary people who, over the past 600 years, fought against injustice and class rule and for a better world of peace and equality. And long may we continue doing so.' - Socialist Review

Interview with editor Ra Page, also in Bookblast

'Protest is a valuable treasury of reminders of earlier struggles and a persuasive call for us to have courage in our current ones with a ruthless class enemy.' - Paul Simon, Morning Star

Editor Ra Page responds to the Morning Star review in his article Time to Exit the Comfort Zone

Read Martyn Bedford's blog The Battle of Orgreave: How Stories Germinate from Unlikely Sources for the Royal Literary Fund about his story 'Withen'

Courttia Newland discusses his Poll Tax Riot story on BBC Radio Manchester's 'The People' programme (51:46 in) 
Ra Page discusses the Protest book project and our Manchester Literature Festival event with Mike Sweeney on BBC Radio Manchester.

'With a strong message of revolution and rising against injustice, the crowd’s applause and hum of feet pounding the floor shook The Dancehouse. The power of the people was a prominent theme throughout the afternoon, we have the power to make our voices heard and impose real change on the issues that we are concerned with. Literature forever remains a strong medium for political and social commentary and forever remains a vehicle for change.' - Mancunion, review of the Manchester Literature Festival headline event

"Throughout the book run the themes of experiencing events from a personal perspective, and valuing lesser-known events and individuals over the famous." Counterfire

Readings and discussion by selected authors at festivals across the UK, see our Events page for more information.
Bonus content

Maxine Peake reads 'May Hobbs' by Maggie Gee for Housmans Bookshop, February 2021
Christopher Eccleston reads 'Withen' by Martyn Bedford for Housmans Bookshop, February 2021
Maxine Peake introduces Protest at Manchester Lit Fest, October 2017 (1/5) 
Kit de Waal reads an excerpt from 'Exterior Paint' at MLF, October 2017 (2/5)
Courttia Newland reads an excerpt from 'That Right to be There' at MLF, October 2017 (3/5)
Maxine Peake reads Michelle Green's Suffragette story 'There Are Five Ways Out of this Room' at MLF, October 2017 (4/5)
Q&A with Ra Page, Maxine Peake, Kit de Waal, Courttia Newland and Michelle Green + Maxine reads 'I Am The Mob' at MLF, October 2017 (5/5)
Stuart reads an excerpt from 'The Blind Light' (Aldermaston) at WoW Fest, Liverpool
Jacob reads an excerpt from 'Bed 45' (Brixton) at WoW Fest, Liverpool
Martyn reads an excerpt from 'Withen' (Orgreave) at WoW Fest, Liverpool
Stuart Evers and Maggie Gee at Stoke Newington Festival, 4th June 2017
Christopher Eccleston reads 'Withen' by Martyn Bedford (Housmans online event, Feb 2021)
Maxine Peake reads an adapted version of 'May Hobbs' by Maggie Gee (Housmans online event, Feb 2021)
Maxine Peake, Maggie Gee and Sally Alexander - full Housmans event (Feb 2021)

Francesca reads an excerpt from 'The Opposite of Drowning' (Welsh Language) 
Courttia reads an excerpt from 'That Right to be There' (Poll Tax) 
Alexei reads 'Banner Bright' (Anti-Vietnam) 


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Online Price £13.50

Buy the eBook

Buy Single Stories

A Fiery Flag
The Mastiff
Heavy Clay Soil
The Pardon List
Trying Lydia
Five Ways Out
The Blind Light
Banner Bright
Rivers of Blood
May Hobbs
The Opposite of Drowning
Bed 45
The Stars are in the Sky
Never Going Underground
That Right to be There
The Turd Tree
Exterior Paint

Book Details

8 Sep 2017