The Green Shoot: A Life of John Hewitt

Ian McElhinney

About the book…

I am the green shoot asking for the flower ... ‘

­ John Hewitt, ‘The Green Shoot’

Considered by many as the grandfather of the much-vaunted Ulster renaissance in literature, John Hewitt was a poet, a political and cultural thinker, a reviewer, an arts gallery administrator and the main advocate of the idea of northern regionalism. 

It was these cultural and political stances which were to lead to the poet's isolation and eventual self-exile at the hands of a suspicious unionist establishment. An inveterate and problematic challenger of status quos, north and south, he is popularly seen as a figure standing alone. But not quite alone. 

There was his wife, Roberta, Hewitt’s indefigable supporter and protector yet one with a clear eye for her husband’s emotional limitations. Contrasting Hewitt's public writings with Roberta’s private diaries, the play vividly illustrates the real emotional and social cost of lives dedicated to art and political idealism

The Green Shoot, edited and compiled by Ian McElhinney, was successfully produced as a one-man show by Tinderbox Theatre Company. As well as providing compelling drama, the play is an intimate portrait of a poet whose life and work stands intense relation to his place and time.

Photo of the author, Ian McElhinney

About the author…

Ian McElhinney was born in Belfast, 1948. He was educated at BRA and Friends' School Lisburn. After studying sociology and politics in Scotland and the United States, he began his acting career in 1978 and is well-known for his work on television, film and in the theatre.