Troubador The Long Apprenticeship

Released: 01/04/2012

ISBN: 9781780881027

Format: Paperback

Review this Book

Author Website

The Long Apprenticeship

A Writer’s Memoir


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.’

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

Be the first to review this book

David Pierce

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 autobiography as such. I began publishing with my wife, Mary Eagleton, in a critical study of English fiction and social class (1979), but most of my publishing career has been taken up with books on Irish writing, in particular Yeats and Joyce. In recent years, I acted as literary reviews editor for a Spanish Irish studies internet journal ( I still do some reviewing and keep in touch with former students and friends round the world, but I haven’t embarked on any major critical project since Reading Joyce (2008). The memoir I have just written took me from October 2009 and September 2011 to complete. I continue to read widely, mostly in literature, and am constantly surprised by new authors and older material. On the other hand, I find I put down books more readily than I used to. Most of the memoir is taken up with the first third of my life, and thereafter with teaching in schools and university, both abroad and here in Britain.

David Pierce. York. Summer 2007
  • Buy as a printed
  • £13.95
  • Matador customers get a £3 discount when using the code 'MEMOIR'!
Also by David Pierce / Related Books