Published: 01/04/2012
ISBN: 9781780881027
eISBN: 9781780889344
Format: Paperback/eBook

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About the Author

Now retired, I live in York in the UK where I have lived for over 30 years. I write about aspects of my life in various books but, until now, until the present book that is, I haven't written an autob... read more

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The Long Apprenticeship
A Writer’s Memoir
by David Pierce

After an established career as a literary critic, David Pierce turns his attention to the story of his own life. From a working-class upbringing to an education in Catholic boarding schools and seminaries in Sussex and Surrey, and then onto university at Lancaster, his story is both personal and evocative of the changes that Britain underwent from the post-war period until the present. With chapters on his father’s lost Jewish family and his mother’s Irish heritage, this is a memoir that celebrates continuity and difference. Whether as a child witnessing the disappearing house dances in the west of Ireland or commenting on the impact of change and the new, Pierce is a compelling story-teller who lets us into the chosen scene with a mixture of emotional engagement, honesty, and humour.

In Pierce’s record of his life, his writing is sensitive, thoughtful and committed. At each stage he digs deep to reflect on what was happening to him, and these reflections ensure that the reading experience is both full and rewarding. Whether he is discussing his earliest memories or a photo of himself as the eleven-year-old boy he once knew, each episode is part of a larger inquiry into the nature of consciousness and how we record and internalise the world. On every page we are invited to reflect with Pierce on what we are reading and on what constitutes the material that comprises a memoir. We accompany the author from a destiny obscure to a prose writer of distinction. The Long Apprenticeship, which contains 28 illustrations, will appeal to fans of biographies and memoirs. It covers the following life experiences:

the discovery of oneself as a writer
the process involved in writing a memoir and in the uncovering of memory
the attention to the self within a social history
the effect of a religious upbringing and the recuperation of the self thereafter.

Thinking about the purpose of a memoir, David said: ‘A memoir is like an underground stream that comes to the surface. You write for those who have gone before and for posterity as much as for yourself.’

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For more about my other books, see my Author's page on or

Chapter 4 of my memoir, my Irish chapter, is now part of the archives of Clare County Library. See

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