Henry Bell

Henry Bell is an award winning writer, poet and organiser living in Glasgow. His work – across poetry, theatre and nonfiction – explores questions of radical memory, community, and the revolutionary transformation of society.

His latest book – Red Threads: A History of the People’s Flag – charts the history of the red flag, how it travelled through the hands of French kings, Atlantic pirates, and liberated slaves to become the symbol of the workers against the propertied class.


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Red Threads: A History of the People’s Flag

Pluto Books

The red flag: there is no symbol, perhaps other than the crucifix and the crescent moon, that so many people have lived and died for. A standard of hope and resistance to millions, and of terror and tyranny to many. But why is the red flag red? How did it come to represent the workers against the propertied class? And how did it travel the world?

In Henry Bell’s lively account, we journey around the globe and back through history, tracing the lineage of the red flag as both a material object and a symbol. The book explores the triumphs and disasters of the flag’s history, its designers and makers, heroes and villains, and the utopias and wastelands that have kept the red flag flying.

From its martial beginnings in Rome and France, to the raising of a blood stained flag at the Merthyr Rising and the arrival of the red flag at the Paris Commune; from the jungles of north-eastern India to the factories of Cuba; Red Threads explores how this symbol of working class power first came to be held aloft in the hands of revolutionaries; who raises it today; and its meaning for the future.

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Now’s the Day, Now’s the Hour: Poems for John Maclean


Now’s The Day, Now’s The Hour collects together poems and songs in tribute to the revolutionary life and legacy of John Maclean (1879–1923) on the centenary of his death.

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Still Life

Speculative Books

For two years Henry Bell and Angela Catlin documented the pandemic in Glasgow through their poems and photographs. In dialogue with each other and the city around them, they recorded their shared isolation, the panic of the early pandemic, the unease and the peace of lockdown, the increasing frustration and political anger and the astonishing highs and lows of a country going through a historic crisis. The photographs and poems in Still Life offer a glimpse of the grief, fear, solidarity and moments of joy that the experience of Covid-19 brought to Scotland.

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Henry Bell is one of the finest young poets in this country with a lucid, lyrical and always accessible voice.Liz Lochhead
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The Inner Circle

Stewed Rhubarb

From love songs and dreamscapes to rats trapped in manholes, The Inner Circle takes us on a kaleidoscopic tour of Glasgow, weaving through tenement mansions and demolished neighbourhoods, trade unions and union jacks. Like a Daytripper ticket in poetic form, this is a pamphlet for those in love with cities and everyone in them.

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I hadn’t realised how much I’d been waiting for this collection until I read it. Henry Bell has the talent to paint Glasgow as it should be painted – lik an oyster fu a clart. Poems brilliant enough to become part of the city itselfWilliam Letford
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The Last Lochan

Speculative Books

A pamphlet, exploring life, community and forgiveness in the climate emergency.

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We need this sort of poetry, which faces the reality of the world we are creating with courage, anger, heart-break, and yet also manages to hold on to kindness and thoughtfulnessDM Black
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John Maclean, Hero of Red Clydeside

Pluto Books

Feared by the government, adored by workers, celebrated by Lenin and Trotsky. The head of British Military Intelligence called John Maclean ‘the most dangerous man in Britain’.

This new biography explores the events that shaped the life of a momentous man – from the Great War and the Great Unrest, to the Rent Strike and the Russian Revolution. It examines his work as an organiser and educator, his imprisonment and hunger strike, and how he became the early hero of radical Scottish Independence.
The definitive biography of Maclean, the book is now in its third edition.

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This is an extremely interesting and well-researched book; it provides a valuable insight into the life of one of Scotland’s most important, respected and influential political figures, whose legacy shines on todayNicola Sturgeon, former First Minister of Scotland
A beautifully structured and brilliantly written biography… Henry Bell’s moving, evocative portrait of the complex man and his times is compelling and timely. It tells not just the story of the radical hero from the red Clyde, but a story of ScotlandJackie Kay, novelist and former Makar, Scottish Poet Laureate

Other Published Work

I have worked as an editor and dramaturg on projects including Harry Giles’ Tonguit, Liz Lochhead’s Fugitive Colours, Angela Catlin’s Natural Light II, and AJ Taudevin’s Blow Off.

My poetry has been published by The Dark Horse, Glasgow Review of Books, New Writing Scotland, NorthWords Now, Raum, Cafe Review, Electronic Intifada, Gutter, The Glad Rag, The Interpreters House, SoGo and Poems-For-All; and included in an installation at Scotland’s poetry festival, StAnza.

In 2015 I was part of the Clydebuilt Poetry apprenticeship. In 2019 I received a New Writers Award for Poetry, from the Scottish Book Trust.

I have written articles for publications including the Daily Record, the Morning Star, Scottish Left Review, Jacobin, Open Democracy, The History Workshop, Bella Caledonia, The Glasgow Guardian,The Drouth, The Scottish Labour History Society and Common Space.


Radical Glasgow Tours

Radical Glasgow Tours are Katherine Mackinnon, Henry Bell and David Lees. We research, create and deliver interactive walking tours of Glasgow, exploring histories of activism, protest, political and social change. Tracing the ephemeral history of liberatory movements in Glasgow and Scotland, amongst the streets and statues that commemorate capitalists, kings and slavers.

We deliver tours for trade unions, colleges, and private groups.


John Maclean Centenary

In 2023, with a committee of comrades, I curated and produced a series of talks, concerts, publications, commissions and events to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of John Maclean. This culminated in a sold-out show at the Royal Concert Hall featuring Billy Bragg, Karine Polwart, Eddi Reader, Arthur Johnstone, Siobhan Miller, Dick Gaughan, and Jackie Kay.

Chill Habibi

With my friend and collaborator Sara Shaarawi, I produced a cabaret of music, poetry, theatre, and performance from Scotland and the Arab World, Chill Habibi ran for 21 nights at the Edinburgh Fringe and has future dates planned in Glasgow, Cairo and London. With performances from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, and Scotland Chill Habibi has received 4 star reviews, features in the international press, and even a guest appearance from Emma Thompson.

The Workers Theatre

A new co-operatively owned and managed theatre company aiming to open a radical new theatre venue for Scotland. Our initial projects have included three festivals of performance on Glasgow’s Southside and the Megaphone Residencies, four crowdfunded residencies for Artists of Colour in Scotland.



A bilingual adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s iconic novel 1982, Janine. Co-written with Sara Shaarawi and developed in Glasgow and Cairo with the support of Creative Scotland, The British Council, The National Theatre of Scotland, Govanhill Baths, and Playwright Studio Scotland.

Welcome to the Fringe: Palestine

Working with Front-Step, The British Council, The Qattan Foundation, and the Forest Fringe, I helped to bring fifteen actors, writers, comedians, dancers, musicians, poets, and storytellers to Scotland from Palestine for a run of more than twenty performances.


Working with Triad Pictures and Sara Shaarawi I co-wrote and produced the Edinburgh Fringe show Lifted, which saw full houses in its original run of 14 performances, and finally an encore performance at Summerhall. Reviews included:  ‘The funniest, freshest, rawest, and most alive and kicking hour I’ve spent at the fringe this year’ – Liz Lochhead and ‘rich visual language… simple, true and excellent storytelling’ -Broadway Baby. Lifted received a commendation for writing in the Sunday Times Student Drama Awards.

Between the Speech Bubble and the Thinks Balloon

In 2014 I co-wrote a piece of theatre with Liz Lochhead, William Letford, Grace Cleary, and Tom Leonard which was performed as part of Play, Pie and a Pint at the Oran Mor.


Glasgow City Council

Artist in Residence

Along with the poet and artist Alec Finlay I undertook a three month residency for Glasgow’s creative communities project and developed Pollokshields Proposes as an exploration of impossible and necessary demands for ward 6 of the city.


Henry Bell is a writer, poet and organiser living in Glasgow. In 2015 he received a Clydebuilt poetry Apprenticeship, and in 2019 he received a New Writers Award for Poetry from the Scottish Book Trust.

He writes occasionally for The Morning star. He is a committee member of Red Sunday School, and a founder member of the Workers Theatre and Radical Glasgow Tours. His work focuses on people’s history and the revolutionary transformation of society.

Email: henryjimbell@gmail.com
Twitter: @henbell
rates for editing, workshops and commissions available on request.