The Author (in his own words)
I was born in 1928 in Collyhurst, Manchester (not a stone's throw from, the stalking ground of the late Les Dawson, the comedian, and also the birthplace of the late John Thaw, the actor. There must be something in the water!). I attended St William's Infant School and St. Chad's Elementary School. I passed the "scholarship" in 1939 and went to Xaverian College, (a grammar school), Victoria Park, Manchester (the Alma Mater of Anthony Burgess of Clockwork Orange fame).
In 1941, I was evacuated with the rest of the school to Blackpool where I had some pretty bizarre experiences, I can tell you. At the age of fifteen, whilst still at school, I worked as a shoe-shine boy at the American Red Cross in St. Anne's Square, Manchester where I earned fabulous sums of money in tips from the American doughboys who gave me my first detailed sex education. I left school in 1944 and went to work at the then Manchester Guardian as copy boy. I had hopes of becoming their star reporter but when I saw that without an Oxbridge education there were few prospects there, I moved on to become a pen-pushing clerk in the Inland Revenue. The hum-drum routine was driving me slowly mad and so before this could happen, I decided to become a teacher and went to the College of St Mark & St John, Chelsea (1945-47).
I took up my first teaching post at a Secondary Modern school in Manchester in 1947. I was put in charge of the top class - I was 19 and my pupils aged 14/15 and they bitterly resented having to stay on an extra year. They gave me a hard time but my Collyhurst working-class background and training had taught me a trick or two and I finally brought them round to their senses. I studied in the evenings at Manchester University and was awarded the degree of B.A. (Admin.) with Distinction in 1955. Attended Leeds University 1956-57 and was awarded Diploma in Secondary Education. Became Head of English Department in a Boys’ Secondary school. (I was 28!) Later was awarded the degree of M.Ed.
Went to Kenya as Education Officer in 1958 - don't ask me why. Returned to UK in 1963 and was appointed Senior Lecturer in Education in a Liverpool College of Education (Notre Dame). Three years later an unsuspecting interview board made me Principal Lecturer at Sedgley Park College of Education, Lancashire. From there I went to the then University of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to train teachers. The University, which was genuinely multi-racial was like an oasis in a sea of apartheid and was perhaps the only sensible institution in the country.
Returned to Britain 1975 and was made Head of Education Department in Glasgow College of Education - then later to Salford College of Technology where I was appointed Head of Education and Staff Development (11,000 full and part-time students and 450 members of staff) where nobody seemed keen on being developed! In 1980, the African bug bit me again and I accepted an appointment at the University of Malawi as Senior Lecturer in Education. I 'retired' in 1985.
During my career, I wrote numerous academic articles (my field was Social Psychology of Education) and achieved my 'Andy Warhol' fifteen minutes of fame when an article I wrote on General Culture hit every morning newspaper in Britain and Giles did his Daily Express cartoon on the subject. The subject of what constitutes General Culture filled several national dailies for many days afterwards. The Open University adopted the paper I wrote as part of one of its courses. The article was very provocative and I think I had the teaching profession after my blood. Thank heavens I was 7,000 miles away at the time!
During all this time I was married to Clare (from 1950) and together we produced six offspring: five sons and one daughter* - all grown-up now of course. Today I am 'retired' in Southport (the second retirement capital of England after Eastbourne!).
After attempting several disastrous hobbies, my wife and daughter suggested (to keep me quiet, I suspect) that I write my memoirs but for family consumption only. Even though I was seventy years of age by this time, I did as was suggested and after a year or so, had produced around 150,000 words, which I entitled "Our Kid". Various friends and relatives thought it might be worth publishing (Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?). Getting a book published though was easier said than done. I tried nearly thirty publishers and was turned down flat by them all. Decided to publish it myself and turned out a few hundred copies - all of which sold like the proverbial hot cakes. Then by accident, the book was read by a London agent who having been hooked, persuaded a publisher to take a chance. The book went into the best-seller list in its first six weeks. Since the success of OUR KID, my children have taken to heart the well-known saying: “Where there’s a will, we want to be in it.”
Billy Hopkins' first novel OUR KID sold well over 100,000 books in its first six months and was chosen as Star Book of the month by World Books. It has since gone on to sell well over 300,000 copies. There's also an audio version, a large print edition and Our Kid has been published in Spanish under the title of 'Nuestro pequeño Billy' and other continental publishers (including Holland and Finland) have expressed an interest. Also, Kate's Story and Our Kid have been transcribed into Braille.
Six further books have since been added: "Tommy's World, Kate's Story, High Hopes, Going Places, Anything Goes, Whatever Next!"
Though there are now seven books in total, they are really one complete story in seven episodes.
Here is Billy being interviewed by Eamonn Holmes on Granada TV’s ‘Lunchtime Live’ on 15th May, 2001: