Sarah Butler, author of Manchester-set coming-of-age novel Before the Fire, shares her favourite representations of her hometown. 

Sarah lives in Manchester and runs a consultancy which develops literature and arts projects that explore and question our relationship to place. 

Poem - Rain by Lemn Sissay

This poem is painted onto the side of a building on Oxford Road in Manchester (right near to St Mary’s Hospital where I was born). I have a long standing interest in the relationship between text and place, and also a long standing relationship with Manchester rain, so this poem appeals on many levels!

TV drama - Scott and Bailey

A great police drama, set in Manchester. I particularly love the opening credits which give a real flavour of Manchester’s urban fabric: red-brick, glass, concrete. This is one of the few TV dramas I’ve watched where the two leads are women, their boss is a woman, and her boss is a woman – very refreshing!

Book - The Penny Heart by Martine Bailey

The Penny Heart

The Penny Heart

Martine Bailey

A page-turning mystery set in 18th century Manchester which conjures up the city at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.

Find out more

TV drama - No Offence 

Another police drama (so many of Manchester’s representations in books and TV are associated with crime...). This was written by Paul Abbott, of Shameless fame, and is a sparky, funny, at times brutal but very watchable drama.

Film - Ken Loach's Looking For Eric

A beautiful, funny film starring Steve Evets as a Manchester postman having a rough time, and Eric Cantona as his imaginary life coach. I’m not a football fan at all, but this is a fantastic story about male friendship, love and finding your place in the world.

 Music - Oasis' (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

While this isn’t strictly a representation of Manchester, it is the epitome of my teenage years in Manchester in the late 1990s. Listening to it evokes the city so strongly for me.