Admire the Man & ‘I’m Tony Harrison no longer you!’
: Tony Harrison’s experiments with self

  • Dane Holt

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is comprised of a creative and a critical component. The creative component is a collection of poems, Admire the Man, separated into three sections. Part 1 is closer to conventionally-understood definitions of working-class poetry – i.e. poems about working-class people, written from the perspective of working-class speakers, their social relations, family life and employment. Part 2 is a long poem, ‘From The Hooligan: A Memoir’, which enacts a series of dramatic textual encounters between a character known as ‘the hooligan’ and the publisher of his memoir. Part 3 is comprised of poems that examine characters from often neglected areas of popular culture (such as professional wrestling and bodybuilding) whose relationships are defined by a series of self-defeating roles. In the critical component, ‘“I’m Tony Harrison no longer you”: Tony Harrison’s Experiments with Self', I examine Tony Harrison’s continual experimentation with poetic selves. I begin by tracing the establishment of the recognisable image of ‘Tony Harrison’ through a process of critical standardisation before troubling two dominant critical strands of Harrison criticism: the ‘clean break’ or ‘true voice’ reading of Harrison’s work which reads ‘The School of Eloquence’ as a ‘clean break’ from The Loiners (1970) and where Harrison finds his ‘true voice’; and the ‘continuous’ reading which draws an unbroken line through Harrison’s work allowing for no significant development or experiment therein. I conduct an assessment of Harrison’s earliest poetic self: ‘T.W. Harrison’, demonstrating how this self emerged from a formative correspondence with James Simmons during their time at University of Leeds. I then re-examine the influence of Thomas Gray’s ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ on Harrison’s v. (1985) before embarking on a fuller understanding of the contexts and the significance of the football hooligan as a manifestation of Harrison’s impulse towards self-dramatisation.

Thesis is embargoed until 31 July 2028.
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsAHRC Northern Bridge DTP
SupervisorLeontia Flynn (Supervisor) & Fran Brearton (Supervisor)


  • Poetry
  • English literature
  • working-class poetry
  • hooliganism
  • Tony Harrison
  • Tony
  • Harrison
  • football
  • football hooligans
  • hooligans

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