Pro Bono Publico: Billy Hopkins’ Last Bow


WISP readers have often known me make mention of Manchester author, Billy Hopkins [RIP], not to mention the Hopkins’ canon, that is to say, the seven book titles that comprise the Mancunian-based roman a fleuve that was his life’s-work – conceived, begun and completed in his retirement years. In chronological order these book titles are as follows:

In actual fact, though, Our Kid was written first, Kate’s Story (to my mind, an absolute masterpiece: hopefully, our editor has felt impelled to read her own copy by now) being Billy Hopkins’ third book title – a narration in the first person singular by means of which the author relates the personal history of his mother.

What needs to be remembered, too, is that Billy Hopkins’ battle to get into print – that is to say, to be commercially published – was at least as traumatic as our own. In evidence, please refer to Billy’s own rendition of his trial and tribulation on his website As you will observe, Billy Hopkins, who was eventually a best-selling author, was initially constrained to self-publish his first book, Our Kid .



Notwithstanding which – and notwithstanding the subsequent best-selling success of Billy Hopkins’ seven book titles featuring the Hopkins family saga, Billy Hopkins then found himself, towards the end of his life, constrained to self-publish his eighth book title.


You heard me a-right. Billy Hopkins was constrained to self-publish his eighth book title. Because the commercial publishers of his other seven books refused to take it on.

Why so?

Because Billy Hopkins’ eighth book, Big Mama, is of a different genre: it’s a political thriller. So his publishers refused to take a chance on it. That is to say, his publishers declined to publish 1000 copies of Big Mama – because, let’s be honest about it, a maximum of 1000 books is all a publisher ever dares to publish until it becomes apparent whether the books a goer or not.

So Billy Hopkins self-published 1,000 copies of Big Mama himself . . . sold 400 copies of the 1000 books . . . was due to do a personal presentation in my home town of Middleton, north Manchester . . . whereupon his personal physician got wind of his self-publishing activities . . . and banned them in consideration of the physical toll they were bound to take of an octogenarian, as indeed Billy Hopkins was at that time..

Consider, then, if you will, Billy Hopkins’ garage at home, having been called upon to store the 600 remaining copies (that is to say, the 15cm X 23cm X 6cm, or approximately 1.25 cubic meters ) of Big Mama had more or less taken over this household amenity.

Accordingly, the author expressed his wish to donate the remaining books to an African-oriented charity, sleeping upon which words overnight, I came up with just the guy to take the books off his hands – former builder, Brian Jinks, who, together with Rotarian/Catenian colleagues, were looking to ship wheelchairs out to Uganda.

Here’s how this effort was reported in Brian’s local newspaper . . .

A novel way to help African kids charity

Author Billy Hopkins is supporting a charity helping some of the world’s poorest people. The north Manchester writer, most famous for his 1999 debut novel Our Kid, has donated hundreds of autographed copies of his latest book to help an African charity.

Proceeds of sales of the novel, Big Mama, will be used to help transport 10 wheelchairs to Kampala in Uganda, where the Missionaries of the Poor charity is working. Billy heard about the cause through his friend Brian Jinks.

Retired builder, Brian Jinks, is travelling to Kampala in April for his third visit to help the charity, which supports children and adults with various difficulties. He said of Billy’s support: “This has been a big help to us as the charity is short of the most basic medical supplies. It helps all sorts of people with various medical problems and of course wheelchairs are very important.”

The charity is a Catholic brotherhood and works to support orphans, street children, refugees, AIDS victims, homeless and disabled people.

Brian Jinks is a member of the local Rotary Club and with their help has raised around £2,000 for the charity in recent months. He added: “What you have to remember is that the brothers who run the charity are dedicating their entire lives to helping these children and adults and that is a massive sacrifice.

“While I was there I worked with them and saw just how valuable their work is. They need all the help we can give them. Thanks to Billy Hopkins generosity we’ve played a part in this at this present time.”

Billy Hopkins’ books are all available as Kindle Books.

(6 January 2013)

Bill Keeth’s books, Every Street in Manchester ISBN 1859880649 & Write It Self-Publish It Sell It ISBN 97809558863 are available from Amazon and all good book shops. Bill can also be contacted via his website,

Click here to return to the index of stories for W I S P

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help logo