The son of a butcher - and therefore the family were 'trade' - John escaped the worst of the poverty while being acutely aware of it in the lives of his schoolmates. The young John was also part of a family of independent spirit, typified by his matriarchal grandmother Florence, a woman of strong left-wing beliefs, who ran an unofficial 'salon' in 'The Lamb', the local pub. She and her daughters are among the many strong characters who people Ackerman's memoirs.
Up The Lamb beautifully interweaves the story of growing up with the life of a resilient community. Ackerman has an eye for telling detail, and his descriptions of childhood rivalries and the lives of women in a society of miners are instanty recognisable. His book is a valuable addition to - and extension of - the history of the south Wales coalfield.
John Ackerman (1934 - 2004) was born in Maesteg and educated at the Universities of London and Wales. He was for many years a lecturer in English, first in Barry and then in London.