What right does a man have to write about women’s issues? A Guest Post by Chris Nickson, Author of The Tin God

Tin God

My grateful thanks to fellow blogger and tour organiser Abby for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for The Tin God by Chris Nickson. Chris has written a fabulous guest post for Linda’s Book Bag today.

The Tin God is published by Severn House Publications and is available for purchase here.

The Tin God

Tin God

When Superintendent Tom Harper’s wife is threatened during an election campaign, the hunt for the attacker turns personal.

Leeds, England. October, 1897. Superintendent Harper is proud of his wife Annabelle. She’s one of seven women selected to stand for election as a Poor Law Guardian. But even as the campaign begins, Annabelle and the other female candidates start to receive anonymous letters from someone who believes a woman’s place lies firmly in the home.

The threats escalate into outright violence when an explosion rips through the church hall where Annabelle is due to hold a meeting – with fatal consequences. The only piece of evidence Harper has is a scrap of paper left at the scene containing a fragment from an old folk song. But what is its significance?

As polling day approaches and the attacks increase in menace and intensity, Harper knows he’s in a race against time to uncover the culprit before more deaths follow. With the lives of his wife and daughter at risk, the political becomes cruelly personal …

What right does a man have to write about women’s issues?

A Guest Post by Chris Nickson

Quite probably, none at all. I certainly wouldn’t attempt a contemporary novel going into that area.

But let me plead some mitigating circumstances.

Firstly, this is a novel, an historical crime novel, and many of the facts are true. After the law changed in 1894, all ratepayers, both men and women of every class, could vote on some local elections. They could stand to be elected as Poor Law Guardians and on the School Board (the first women on the Leeds School Board was Mrs. Catherine Buckton, actually in 1873). The first female Guardians were elected in Leeds in 1894. Many politicians, of all parties, didn’t approve of the idea, and quite a few newspapers were critical.

And secondly, the idea for the book was suggested by a woman, an historian who specialises in feminism in 19th century Leeds. She’s a fan of the series, and loves Annabelle.

While the idea of a working-class woman standing as a Guardian is at the heart of the book (and one of the first women elected to the post was a miner’s wife), there’s no debate about it. It’s an accepted fact. She’s standing, and that’s that. Annabelle has been a speaker for the Suffragists for several years. This is a natural development for her. Yes, there’s a man who’s violently opposed to women in politics, and Annabelle’s husband, Det. Supt. Tom Harper, has to catch him. But six other women are standing and threatened.

There are resonances of today in there. You only need to look at the terrible murder of the MP Jo Cox, or the way female politicians of all parties are abused on social media – women who stand up for themselves in any way, in fact.

The issue is there, but this is about the people. In the book, some men approve of women running for office; others don’t. It’s reflection of life at that time – and that time is just 120 years ago, not even two lifetimes, and 20 years before any women received the Parliamentary franchise.

The Sufragettes, the movement that began at the beginning of the 20th century, are very well known, and rightly so. But long before that, the Suffragists were working to gain the vote and quality for women for much of the 19th century, and plenty of that took place in Leeds. The first petition to Parliament on the issue, in 1832, came from Mary Smith, a Leeds woman.

Yet the Suffragists have largely been ignored. And that’s a terrible shame. All I’m trying to do, through Annabelle, is to show some of the work they’d done, and the advances they managed to make. There’s no discussion of the national issue; it’s irrelevant here.

This is essentially the story about a copper and his wife, like the rest of the series. In this book, what’s happening to each of them is interwoven. It’s very personal, about justice – in many ways – and her battle to be elected is very much at the centre. But it’s a story about people. About the working-class coming forward, and about Leeds, too, which is at the heart of most of my books.

The real Leeds Suffragists deserve to be celebrated, especially in 2018. And they’re going to be: the historian who gave me the spark for The Tin God is curating an exhibition which will run for the month of May at Leeds Libraries, called The Vote Before The Vote. The ‘official’ launch of my book will be part of that. But only because she said yes.

Whether that justifies my dealing with this topic, I don’t know. I hope so. Only you can be the judge, really…

About Chris Nickson

chris nickson

Chris Nickson, author of the Richard Nottingham series, was born and raised in Leeds, England. A well-known music journalist and author, he’s written many celebrity biographies as well as being a frequent contributor to numerous music magazines.

You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisNickson2 and visit his website. You’ll find him on Facebook and there’s more with these other bloggers:

Tin God poster

Staying in with David Olner

TBC cover

A little while ago I interviewed Nathan and Wayne from the newly formed Obliterati Press in a blogpost you can read here. What I didn’t realise at the time was that would be sending one of their authors, David Olner, to stay in with me to tell me about his book.

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with David Olner

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, David. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

No probs, ta for inviting me.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

TBC cover

I’ve brought my debut novel The Baggage Carousel.  It’s a travel-sized epic that takes the reader around the world in 250 pages.  From Doncaster to Australia via South Africa and a few other stopovers, too.

(Sounds like my kind of read. I love to travel and have been to Doncaster, Australia and South Africa so I’m sure I’d love to revisit those places – some more than others!)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Baggage Carousel?

It’s a visceral yet humane travelogue about life’s great let-downs: family, work and love.

(I hope your let-downs are fictional ones Davis!)

What else have you brought along and why?


All the ingredients for my traditional night in: San Miguel beer and olives.  I like to drink the beer in its official San Miguel glass that I liberated from a life of servitude in Wetherspoons.  The amber liquid and the creamy head look particularly aesthetically pleasing when displayed within.  I could only fit eight cans in my knapsack, though, so I dunno what you’re drinking.

(It’s fine. There’s always some San Miguel in the fridge in the ‘gym’ so if you finish those cans I can grab some more. That liberating of the glass was very noble of you!)

As for the olives, I’ve always found myself strangely drawn towards dank fruit.  We can share those, though, they’ve got feta cheese mixed in with them and if I eat too much of that it makes my mouth feel a bit claggy.

(Happy to share olives and feta David. One of my favourite combinations of food as it always makes me think of holidays.)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about The Baggage Carousel David. It’s made me realise it’s time for another trip abroad! 

The Baggage Carousel

TBC cover

Dan Roberts has a troubled past, anger management issues and a backpack named after an abducted heiress. A chance encounter with Amber, a free-spirited Australian girl, seems to give his solitary, nomadic life a new sense of direction. But when she doesn’t respond to his emails, the only direction he’s heading is down…

The Baggage Carousel is a visceral yet humane travelogue of a novel about life’s great let-downs; family, work and love.

Dan Roberts is destined to go down as one of fiction’s great solitary men, equal parts Iain Banks’ Frank, Camus’ Meursault and Seuss’ The Grinch.

The Baggage Carousel was published by Obliterati on 23rd March 2018 and is available for purchase here.

About David Olner


Dave Olner likes to travel, relishing the opportunity to alienate people from different cultures. He currently lives in Humberside where he works as a reach truck driver by night and sleeps during the day. Like a vampire, except without the bloodletting, immortality or superhuman strength. The Baggage Carousel is his first novel.

You can follow David on Twitter @daveocelot.