Garland Press


276 pp, Paperback
ISBN 978-1-940782-00-3
Publication Date: March 31, 2014
Special Fall Sale!  $9.99

Ebook available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Hannah's Left Hook

by Brian McKeown

Through countless scrubbings of St. Lawrence’s Church floor, a poor washerwoman develops a devastating left hook. During the Great War she persuades the Birkenhead Shipyard to hire her as its first female laborer, beginning her transformation into a working-class legend.

Set in northwest England, Hannah’s Left Hook is a story of survival, feisty determination, and the occasional black eye. Hannah Corcoran and her family battle their way through the tumultuous events of the first half of the twentieth century. Whether it’s a butcher who thumbs his scales, a foreman who exploits female shipyard workers while their husbands and brothers fight the Great War, an agent provocateur who escalates the food riots of 1932, or a sergeant who drafts under-age boys during WW II—Hannah’s left hook strikes to defend the rights of the unemployed and the oppressed.

Book Discussion Guide for Hannah’s Left Hook


  1. Hannah’s Left Hook is full of colorful secondary characters. Who are your favorites? Who do you consider the most despicable?
  2. How would the life of Hannah and her family have been different if there had been no Alf Richards?
  3. Do you think there’s any justification in Hannah’s views on Winston Churchill?
  4. Do you think anything as humiliating as the Means Test (Chapter Nine) could happen today?
  5. Do you think Hannah’s reaction to her daughter marrying a man of a different race was in line with the times?
  6. Birkenhead citizens thought of Hannah as a hero of the working class. What about Peter, her husband?
  7. Hannah worked in the shipyard for less than two years, yet it had a big impact on her life. If she had taken a “woman’s job,” in what ways do you think her life would have been different?
  8. Hannah’s Left Hook follows the struggles of a family through World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. Do these struggles bring to mind any events in your own family history?
  9. From the prologue: “Some folks maintained that Hannah never clobbered anyone who didn’t deserve it. That will be for you to decide.” What did you decide?
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