Maurice Leitch


Maurice Leitch was born in Muckamore, Co Antrim in 1933 and educated in Belfast. He began his broadcasting career with the BBC in 1960 as a radio features producer. In 1970 he moved to London to work in the radio drama department continuing to direct documentary feature programmes. In 1977 he became editor of A Book at Bedtime on Radio Four until leaving in 1989 to write full time.

His novel Silver’s City won the Whitbread Prize Best Novel Prize in 1981 and Poor Lazarus won the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1969. In 1999 he was awarded an MBE for services to literature.

“Nearly all my work is set in Northern Ireland, and when beyond, as in London, the West Country, or even Spain, the characters and their concerns are still directly influenced by their home place.

In 1970 I left in to work in London and in retrospect I continue to believe this distancing was invaluable in seeing the situation in a much better perspective than if l had remained, distracted by events taking place in the immediate neighbourhood.

The work most directly concerned with the ‘‘Troubles”, a term, incidentally, which I feel carries far too much freight of a romantic and possibly sentimental nature, harking back to an earlier and less complex era, I suppose, has to be “Silver’s City”.

Yet to me its period background was only a backdrop to what I hoped was a much more fundamental and long running study of my own Protestant tribe. In many ways I think the four decades under discussion has had a detrimental effect on certain home-based artists, over-influenced perhaps by the publishing hype and appetite for political answers to questions which deserve a much more oblique and searching approach.”
Maurice Leitch

The Liberty Lad (1965)
Poor Lazarus (1969)
Stamping Ground (1975)
Silver’s City (1981)
The Hands of Cheryl Boyd and Other Stories (1987)
Chinese Whispers (1987)
Burning Bridges (1989)
Gilchrist (1994)
The Smoke King (1998)
The Eggman’s Apprentice (2001)
Dining At The Dunbar (2009)
Seeking Mr Hare (2013)

Writing About Maurice Leitch:

Douglas Dunn “Two Decades of Irish Writing”
Richard Mills “Closed Places of the Spirit”
Interview - Irish Studies Review - Gill & McMillan 1974
Julia Carlson “Banned in Ireland” 1990
J W Foster “Themes and Forces in Ulster Fiction” 1974