Footnote to History


Taking the reader on a journey from the historical to the personal, Michael Henry’s third collection, Footnote to History, charts the life of a man through two world wars and into the late twentieth century. Through the interwoven voices of the protagonist and a third-party observer, Henry explores the shifting tides of innocence, certainty and identity, capturing different eras with his acute ear for changing colloquialisms. He tells his tale with his characteristic gentle humour spliced with moments of high emotion that are never sentimental.


Michael Henry’s Footnote, unlike those with which historians underpin their narratives, tells its own tale; one with a vitality missing from most historians’ narratives. His poems have the fine grain, the breathing immediacy, the tantalizing transitions, of photographs in a family album. Together, they comprise a miniaturist’s War and Peace, set not on the central European plain but in the Proustian memory of a survivor from another war, another haunted peace.Jon Stallworthy
I like these poems, particularly for a conciseness and luminosity of detail which works beautifully in support of the overall theme.Alan Brownjohn
‘What makes a good collection? Whatever the magic is, this is one. … This collection, with its distilled feelings of love, grief, guilt, joy, sense of belonging and helplessness, shot through with brilliant images, shows why poetry is vastly more important than prose. The twentieth century was formidable. I feel enriched by this way of seeing it.R G Felton

NOTE: The cover image was reproduced with permission by the then Chambre Hardman Trust. The archive is now part of the Chambre Hardman Museum, held in Liverpool by the National Trust.

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