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Friends pay tribute to ‘witty and wonderful’ Guardian columnist Michele Hanson

Jeremy Corbyn joins tributes to Guardian columnist who wrote several books and campaigned on local issues in Tufnell Park

09 March, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Michele Hanson, who died last Friday, wrote a column for the Guardian for more than 30 years

MICHELE Hanson’s writing touched the lives of thousands: those looking after their mothers, parents living with a troublesome teenager and those facing the injustices of modern society.

The talented writer, who held a column in the Guardian for more than 30 years, died last Friday aged 75, suffering a stroke after walking her beloved dogs.

Labour leader and Islington North MP ­Jeremy Corbyn was among those leading tributes to the mother-of-one, describing her as a “very witty and wonderful person”.

He said: “She was a wonderful, witty, zany, humane, caring, ever-decent person who amused, informed and inspired all at the same time and did a great deal to entertain for a very many years.”

Ms Hanson with daughter Amy

As well as being a passionate writer, Ms Hanson was equally as devoted to issues locally in Tufnell Park, where she had lived for many years. She campaigned against the closure of Tufnell Park tube station while a lift refurbishment took place, and, although protesters were ultimately unsuccessful in winning the fight, Councillor Janet Burgess said Ms Hanson was an “extraordinary” person.

Cllr Burgess, of Junction ward, said: “I felt I could talk to her about anything. We talked about everything really, from politics but also life in general, what it was like to be a mother and a daughter.

“She was very political and hated injustice, but she wasn’t at all bitter.”

In her younger years, Ms Hanson (above) had a stall on Portobello Market. She moved to Islington about 40 years ago.

Alongside her acclaimed Guardian column, she wrote several books, including What the Grown-ups Were Doing, Treasure: The Trials of a Teenage Terror, and Living With Mother.

“Treasure” was the nickname given to her daughter Amy, 37, and was the focus of Ms Hanson’s columns as she raised her through her testing teenage years.

Art historian and friend Tanya Harrod, who first met her in 1979, said: “She was very committed to pointing out injustices. She created her own kind of world, giving everyone nicknames. She was irreplaceable, her columns reach out to everyone. I don’t know if she ever realised how brilliant they all were.”

Ceramics artist Carol McNicoll, a close friend of Ms Hanson, had fond memories of them nanny­ing each other’s babies around their working hours. They both then moved within walking distance on the Islington and Camden border.

Ms McNicoll said: “I was always going to meetings with her to protest against this, that and the other. She was always an activist and getting involved in campaigns. It’s just so sad she wasn’t around to see all the nice things people said about her.

“She never had a massive amount of confidence about her writing. I would tell her about the people I met that knew her work and she would be amazed that her columns had that effect on them.”

Ms Hanson would often send her best friend Ian Whitwham her work before filing, including one of her last pieces published last week entitled “If it’s a care home for me, bring on the pole dancers”.

Mr Whitwham said: “I never had to change anything because they are all brilliant. She was adored.”

A fundraising page has been set up in Ms Hanson’s memory, with donations going to her daughter’s charity Small Steps Project. Visit

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