In the shadow of Enoch Powell

Race, locality and resistance

By Shirin Hirsch

In the shadow of Enoch Powell


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2739-6
  • Pages: 152
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £17.99
  • Published Date: November 2018
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Sociology, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Human Geography, Society & social sciences / Migration, immigration & emigration, SOCIAL SCIENCE / General, HISTORY / Social History, Social & cultural history, Modern History, History
  • Series: Racism, Resistance and Social Change


Fifty years ago Enoch Powell made national headlines with his 'Rivers of Blood' speech, warning of an immigrant invasion in the once respectable streets of Wolverhampton. This local fixation brought the Black Country town into the national spotlight, yet Powell's unstable relationship with Wolverhampton has since been overlooked. Drawing from interviews and archival material, this book offers a rich local history through which to investigate the speech, bringing to life the racialised dynamics of space during a critical moment in British history. What was going on beneath the surface in Wolverhampton and how did Powell's constituents respond to this dramatic moment? The research traces the ways in which Powell's words reinvented the town and uncovers highly contested local responses. While Powell left Wolverhampton in 1974, the book returns to the city to explore the collective memories of the speech which continue to reverberate. In a contemporary period of new crisis and national divisions, revisiting the shadow of Powell allows us to reflect on racism and resistance from 1968 to today.


'Enoch Powell made his notorious Rivers of Blood speech in the Midland Hotel in Birmingham on 20 April, 1968. At the time he was the Conservative MP for the constituency of Wolverhampton South West. In her book In the Shadow of Enoch Powell Shirin Hirsch examines the impact of Powell's speech in the Wolverhampton of 1968 and analyses its significance 50 years later. Hirsch draws on archival material as well as her own contemporary interviews.'
Vivek Lehal, Socialist Review, Vol. 444 (March 2019)

As the extensive list of secondary sources in the book's bibliography suggests, Enoch Powell
has been the subject of considerable research. Shirin Hirsch's short but powerful book
stands out by offering insight into the experience of those both facing and fighting the
ramifications of Powell's speech and the attitudes it represented. Hirsch's masterful command
of contemporary newspapers and oral accounts presents the reader with an excellent
perception of the prevailing societal ideas.
Midland History


1 'The Commonwealth is much too common for me': another 1968
2 The world in Wolverhampton
3 Reverberations from 'Rivers of Blood'
4 Resistance in the schools and on the buses
5 'A monstrous reputation': remembering Enoch Powell


Shirin Hirsch is based at the People's History Museum and is a Lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University. When writing the book she was a researcher at the University of Wolverhampton.

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout