Edward Pearce (journalist)

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Edward Pearce
Born (1939-03-28) March 28, 1939 (age 82)
Wenlock, Shropshire
Alma mater St Peter's College, Oxford
Occupation Journalist, writer

Edward Pearce (born 28 March 1939)[1] is an English political journalist and writer, notable for being the leader writer for The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, and writing a number of biographies of political figures. He is also known for writing a highly controversial article in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Personal life

Edward Pearce was born in Wenlock, Shropshire, in 1939, the son of Frank Pearce,[2] a schoolmaster, and Harriet Johnson. He was brought up in Darlington, attending Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, and then studied at St Peter's College, Oxford.[3] He has been married to Deanna (née Singer) since 1966, and has one child, Cecily (b. 1975), a musician and teacher. He now lives in Easingwold, near York.

Career

Embarking on a career in journalism, in 1977 he became a leader writer for the Daily Express. In 1979 he moved to The Daily Telegraph, where he wrote leaders and sketches on the Commons. In the 1980s Pearce contributed to Encounter; he claims the editors reassigned him from political writing to theatre criticism after he repeatedly used his Encounter column to criticise the Thatcher government.[4] Pearce was strongly critical of the Soviet Union and welcomed its collapse, stating that under Stalin's rule the Soviet Union was "a mechanism for killing people distinguished from the Hitlerzeit only by motive".[4] From 1987 to 1990 he was a columnist for The Sunday Times. Finally he became a columnist for The Guardian and sketch writer for the New Statesman until 1995. At this period he also wrote frequently for the Yorkshire Post, and was a panellist on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze.[5] In later years he increasingly turned to the writing of biographical and historical studies of political figures.

Pearce was an opponent of the First Gulf War.[6]

He twice stood unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party.

Pearce's biography of Denis Healey, Denis Healey: A Life in Our Times, was described by Anthony Howard as " an impressive piece of work...[told] both vividly and well".[7]

Hillsborough controversy

Pearce was criticised for writing an article in the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, at a time when a number of victims' funerals were taking place. In a Sunday Times article on 23 April 1989 he wrote the following:

"For the second time in half a decade a large body of Liverpool supporters has killed people ...the shrine in the Anfield goalmouth, the cursing of the police, all the theatricals, come sweetly to a city which is already the world capital of self-pity. There are soapy politicians to make a pet of Liverpool, and Liverpool itself is always standing by to make a pet of itself. 'Why us? Why are we treated like animals?' To which the plain answer is that a good and sufficient minority of you behave like animals."[8]

Pearce reflected that if South Yorkshire Police bore any responsibility, it was "for not realising what brutes they had to handle".[8]

Professor Phil Scraton described Pearce's comments as amongst the "most bigoted and factually inaccurate" published in the wake of the disaster.[9]

A number of complaints were made to the Press Council concerning the article, but the Council ruled that it was unable to adjudicate on comment pieces, noting that while tragedy or disaster is not an occasion for writers to exercise gratuitous provocation, it was within the discretion of the editor to publish the piece.[10]

Works

  • - (1983). The Senate of Lilliput. Faber and Faber.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (1985). Hummingbirds and Hyenas. Faber and Faber.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (1987). Looking Down on Mrs.Thatcher. Hamish Hamilton.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (1989). Shooting Gallery. Hamish Hamilton.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (1991). The Quiet Rise of John Major. Weidenfeld & Nicolson.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (1992). Election Rides. Faber and Faber.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (1993). Machiavelli's Children. Gollancz.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (1997). The Lost Leaders: the best Prime Ministers we never had. Little, Brown.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (1999). Lines of Most Resistance: The Lords, the Tories and Ireland, 1886-1914. Little, Brown.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (2002). Denis Healey: a Life in Our Times. Little, Brown.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (2003). Reform! The Fight for the 1832 Reform Act. Jonathan Cape.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (2005). The Diaries of Charles Greville. Pimlico.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (2007). The Great Man: Sir Robert Walpole: Scoundrel, Genius and Britain's First Prime Minister. Jonathan Cape.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • - (2010). Pitt the Elder: Man of War. Bodley Head.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Pearce has also written a play, Mr Wilkinson of York, about Tate Wilkinson. The play has been performed by amateurs in Yorkshire[11]

References

  1. "Birthdays", The Guardian, p. 43, 28 March 2014 |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Oldham Evening Chronicle, 12 January 2010
  3. "In the Spotlight - St Peter's Members in the Popular Media", Peter's College Newsletter, Spring 2003 [p.5]; Who's Who
  4. 4.0 4.1 Edward Pearce, "Uncle Joe's Heirs and Disgraces". The Guardian, 11 September 1991
  5. Guardian biographical note
  6. "The writers against the war- Edward Pearce in The Guardian, John Diamond in the Mirror, John Pilger whenever anyone prints what he wants-have to be singled out from the chauvinist mass." Paul Foot, "The Gulf War" in Jane Hindle (ed), London Review of Books: An Anthology, London: Verso, 1996, p. 28 ISBN 185984121X,
  7. Anthony Howard, "The Lone Wolf". New Statesman, March 25, 2002. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Sunday Times, 23 April 1989
  9. "No Last Rites:The Denial of Justice and The Promotion of Myth in The Aftermath of The Hillsborough Disaster;" Scraton et al, 1995]
  10. Hillsborough Inquiry, The Press Commission, 30 July 1989
  11. Yorkshire Post, 12 December 2008