Perceptive New Novel Shines Light On Accepting Your Sexuality In 50s And 60s

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Ned Hopkins’ A Proper Contentment tells the entwined stories of Bessie and her gay son against the backdrop of British society over the twentieth century.

A Proper Contentment

An absorbing and fascinating read about the complexity of human relationships.

Ned Hopkin’s A Proper Contentment is an accomplished novel that oozes tenderness, humility and the love of a mother for her son as he comes to terms with his sexuality.

Semi-autobiographical, this multi-faceted novel will appeal to those interested in twentieth century social history, the ramifications of discovering you were gay in the 1950s and 60s, and those with a passion for a family drama.

Evocative and receiving five-star reviews, this work about Bessie and her ‘oddball’ son shines with all the ingredients required to transfer to the theatre or movie screen (which comes as no surprise in light of the author’s experience as a playwright). Bravo, Mr Hopkins.


A Proper Contentment tells the entwined stories of Bessie and her gay son against the backdrop of British society over the twentieth century. It takes place at different times in Manchester, Edinburgh and South London.

In 1924, Bessie is torn from the school she loves to work as a skivvy for her family. Eventually, with WW2 about to break out, she marries the steadfast, ambitious Hugh, and moves from Manchester to Edinburgh to confront fresh challenges.

Some years later, Sam is born, and a strong bond develops between the pair as they re-establish themselves in South London. Their relationship is to be severely tested as he emerges into adulthood and comes to terms with his sexuality in the unsettled climate of the late ‘60s and ‘70s.

Ned Hopkin’s A Proper Contentment tells the entwined stories of Bessie and her gay son against the backdrop of British society over the twentieth century. On The Table Read

In middle-age, someone finally enters Sam’s life who wants to stay. But Robbie has a wife and teenage daughters…

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Book Reviews For A Proper Contentment

“A must read. I enjoyed ‘A Proper Contentment’ because it is well written, insightful, realistic and engaging. There is a real sense of history and atmosphere of different times during the 20/21 century. It is not often books are written with such sincerity and honesty giving opportunities to gain deep insights into ways characters cope, enjoy and get challenged by their journeys through life.

“Yes, life is a challenge for us all but how wonderful when we are given chances to share and learn from others’ experiences in meaningful ways. Ned has a gift for writing in a sensitive, light style that can be very amusing and with a flurry; but his writing is also thoughtful, serious and fun depending on what is happening. I particularly identified with some of the situations he faced at work and with Bessie who loves her son even when he does not live up to her expectations.

“His writing gives deep insights as well as light-heartedness. The heterosexual world has the chance to learn and empathise with the lives and experiences of another life style including difficulties, joys and challenges and I am sure many LGBTQ+ people will empathise and enjoy the authenticity, realism and honesty.

“I recommend this book so much and hope it will be widely read because the world needs books like this. We can all empathise, learn and have more understanding about individuals, families and lifestyles different from our own and enjoy an excellent read!!! I can’t wait to read it again and for Ned Hopkins’s next book!” – J A Richards

“A fascinating and perceptive account of family and sexual relationships. The writing is vivid, sensitive and draws the reader effortlessly into the main characters and their inner thoughts. Once acquainted with them, I was eager to turn the pages and discover the next episode in each of their lives. As the story spans almost the entire twentieth century, the author cleverly alludes to the relevant historical events and social attitudes, thus adding to the reader’s understanding of the characters and their motives.

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its compulsive story and subtle humour.” – Judith McNab

About Ned Hopkins

“Semi-autobiographical, my novel explains what it was like discovering you were gay in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and how your parents, friends and employers reacted. My own literary hero is Patrick Gale.” – Ned Hopkins

Ned was born in Edinburgh in 1944 but has spent much of his life in London. He worked for the BBC before going on to train as a teacher specialising in Drama. For many years he divided his time between working as an educational administrator and directing – and occasionally acting with non-commercial theatre companies in the London area.

He now concentrates on writing plays and novels and contributes reviews and occasional articles to Sardines theatre magazine.

Ned’s numerous works for the theatre include Darling Hypocrite, the musical Cliché, an adaptation of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, the award-winning Earnest Endeavours and A Lot of it About for Organised Chaos which was presented at the Lowry Studio, Salford, in 2013.

His debut novel Play On was published in 2018 and is available from Amazon. Of which one reviewer wrote: ‘…a must read for anyone who loves trying to untangle the complexity of human emotions and relationships…’

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