Borstal Boy

Borstal Boy

Brendan Behan / Mar 29, 2020

Borstal Boy In Liverpool year old Brendan Behan is arrested for carrying explosives in his suitcase A fervent republican undergoing a mission for the IRA with designs to blow up a shipyard Behan is se

  • Title: Borstal Boy
  • Author: Brendan Behan
  • ISBN: 9780099706502
  • Page: 208
  • Format: Paperback
  • In 1939, Liverpool, 16 year old Brendan Behan is arrested for carrying explosives in his suitcase A fervent republican undergoing a mission for the IRA, with designs to blow up a shipyard, Behan is sentenced to three years Borstal detention as he is a minor, and cannot be given the death sentence.In this autobiography, Behan writes about the experiences that ultimately shIn 1939, Liverpool, 16 year old Brendan Behan is arrested for carrying explosives in his suitcase A fervent republican undergoing a mission for the IRA, with designs to blow up a shipyard, Behan is sentenced to three years Borstal detention as he is a minor, and cannot be given the death sentence.In this autobiography, Behan writes about the experiences that ultimately shaped the man he was to become.

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      Published :2018-012-06T06:45:54+00:00

    About "Brendan Behan"

      • Brendan Behan

        Brendan Francis Behan Irish Breand n Beach in 9 February 1923 20 March 1964 was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both Irish and English He was also an Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army.Behan was born in the inner city of Dublin on 9 February 1923 into an educated working class family He lived in a house on Russell Street near Mountjoy Square owned by his grandmother, Christine English, who owned a number of properties in the area Also living in the area was his uncle Peadar Kearney, song writer and author of the Irish national anthem Brendan s father, Stephen Behan, a house painter who had been active in the Irish War of Independence, read classic literature to the children at bedtime from sources such as Zola, Galsworthy, and Maupassant his mother, Kathleen, took them on literary tours of the city If Behan s interest in literature came from his father, his political beliefs were by his mother She remained politically active all her life and was a personal friend of the Irish republican Michael Collins Brendan Behan wrote a lament to Collins, The Laughing Boy , at the age of thirteen The title was from the affectionate nickname Mrs Behan gave to Collins Kathleen published her autobiography, Mother of all the Behans, a collaboration with her son Brian, in 1984.Behan s uncle Peadar Kearney wrote the Irish national anthem Amhr n na bhFiann His brother, Dominic Behan, was also a renowned songwriter best known for the song The Patriot Game another sibling, Brian Behan, was a prominent radical political activist and public speaker, actor, author, and playwright Brendan and Brian did not share the same views, especially when the question of politics or nationalism arose Brendan on his deathbed presumably in jest asked Cathal Goulding, then the Chief of Staff of the IRA, to have that bastard Brian shot we ve had all sorts in our family, but never a traitor.A biographer Ulick O Connor, recounts that one day, at the age of eight, Brendan was returning home with his granny and a crony from a drinking session A passer by remarked, Oh, my Isn t it terrible ma am to see such a beautiful child deformed How dare you , said his granny He s not deformed, he s just drunk Behan left school at 13 to follow in his father s footsteps as a house painter.


    1. Autobiographical novel by Irish writer Brendan Behan. Behan was brought up in a strongly republican household, her mother was a close friend of Michael Collins. Behan joined Fianna Éireann, the youth section of the IRA at 13. When he was 16 in 1939 Behan went to Liverpool with some explosives with the intention of blowing up the docks. He was arrested and because of his age ended in the borstal system. He was in borstal in England until his release in 1941. The novel is split into three section [...]

    2. A wonderful book, and far better than I was expecting. I was inspired to pick up Borstal Boy having come across a reference to it in (the marvellous) Handsome Brute: The Story of a Ladykiller. Neville Heath, a once infamous 1940s British murderer, was incarcerated, before he was convicted of murder, with Brendan Behan at Hollesley Bay borstal in Suffolk.Brendan Behan was arrested in Liverpool, aged 16, with explosives and the intention of blowing up the Liverpool dock. The first section of the b [...]

    3. Borstal Boy sat for many a year on my to be read bookcase due to its inclusion on the 1001 books one must read before death, a list which has caused me all sorts of grief and happiness. Due to the urgent need to reclaim space I grabbed it for a 8 hour flight, much as one would shuffle up to a particularly healthy kale salad. I presumed it would be good for me but there was little joy.Having finished it and pondered over it, I am glad i read it but it is an unsettling book. Borstal Boy is an auto [...]

    4. Behan has an engaging style and plays around with such things as phonetic spelling in an interesting and creative way for genuine impact. The narrative flow is sometimes strangely truncated and other times heavily languid, which is where it loses star-value for me Yes, this kind of approach marries up well with the very conversational mode Brendan Behan is operating in, but it leaves me with the feeling sometimes that I'm missing out on key elements of the story. I mean, if he was in front of me [...]

    5. Warm, human, literate and intelligent. A terrific reading experience.( just to note : I was amused to read a review in which the reader lamented the lack of sodomy and violence. Were they reading the same book I did? Or is it that subtlety is lost on them? Was also a bit shocked to hear it described as 'boring' Perhaps folk's appetites have been so dulled by misery porn that they can't cope with more than a straight forward catalogue of horrors. Shame that, because it means the nuances and layer [...]

    6. England, 1939-1942. Brendan "Paddy" Behan is convicted of murder: he detonated an explosive that killed at least 4 people. Since he is 16 y/o at the time of the crime, he now stays in an institution called aBorstal which is a type of youth prison in the United Kingdom, run by the Prison Service and intended to reform seriously delinquent young people ages below 17.Think Prisonbreak but with almost no escapees and definitely no rape, sodomy, gang wars and drugs. In Borstal Boy, there are just fri [...]

    7. ★★★★✩ What better book to read on St. Patrick’s Day than Borstal Boy, by Brendan Behan? Niall Tóibín, Irish comedian and actor, narrates this one that is semi-autobiographical story of the author. After committing murder via an IRA bomb, a 16 year old boy is locked-up in three English detention institutions during WWII. However, Mr. Tóibín's accent (depending on the dialect he is doing) is so thick, I had to play back parts, though I did get used to it. Still, wonderful dialogue, [...]

    8. Period piece that's a less disturbing read than its reputation would predict. Young loose cannon Behan of the IRA gets caught redhanded in England, and learns the system -- and the country that founded it- via its correctional institutions. Banned in Ireland as obscene, this took a while getting published and still managed to upset applecarts in the fifties.Though tame for contemporary readers, this is the Cooks Tour of the world 'inside', circa early forties, in the north of England. Oddly enou [...]

    9. Brendan tells his story of a childhood in Ireland to his involvement with the I.R.A. and his arrest and incarceration in the U.K.A great tale of a heavy life, with heavy drinking and flying fists the size of melons.

    10. In 1939 sixteen year old IRA man Brendan Behan was arrested holding explosives which he was going to use to blow up the Liverpool docks, to strike a blow for Ireland against its age long imperial oppressor. Held on remand at Walton Prison, he was ex-communicated and suffered the occasional beating from the "screws". Sentenced to serve time in England's Borstal system for young prisoners, he was thrown in amongst the dregs of the British Empire, and found them to be splendid fellows."John Howard, [...]

    11. Wouldn't have found this but for the Dublin Writers Museum, which had a modest yet compelling display about this Irish Patriot and his writing, both in print and by his own hand in the form of letters to his brother. As if by destiny, I found this one of Behan's books in a shop that same night when I was there visiting last September. This is a rare glimpse into the 24/7 of a young man who is basically in the Irish version of Juvie for being an active member of the I.R.A. - stranded in Britain a [...]

    12. Tradotto in Italiano da Luciano Bianciardi, come d'altronde si legge ne La vita agra: si dice spesso che da questa vicenda lo scrittore italiano abbia preso ispirazione per il suo libro.The Borstal Boy è una specie di memoir romanzato della propria esperienza nel carcere minorile, appunto chiamato borstal; Behan vi fu rinchiuso a sedici anni, nell 1937, dopo essere stato arrestato per possesso di esplosivi. Aveva in mente, non autorizzato dal movimento, di far esplodere i docks di Liverpool. Il [...]

    13. A picaresque masterpiece. The book Patrick Leigh Fermor might have written if he'd been a teenage IRA bomber packed off to an English reform school in the '40s.Raised in a prominent Dublin family and well-educated, at age 16 the future Irish playwright Brendan Behan attempted to blow up Liverpool docks as part of an unauthorized mission for the IRA, at the start of World War II in 1939. Behan was arrested and spent time in a rough English jail, then in a borstal for juvenile delinquents. He desc [...]

    14. I was given a copy of this wonderful book by an Australian I met when travelling in Europe in 1990. The copy was an early sixties Pan edition - its spine was broken, the pages were dog-eared and stained and it had fallen into three pieces. My Australian fellow-traveller had had it passed to him by a similar stranger. On giving it to me he made the proviso that I too must pass it on once I'd read it. I passed it on to a friend in England and I know that he passed it on to someone else. I don't im [...]

    15. Shane Macgowan said this was the best book; well, it's one of them, I suppose. If you like the idea of English, Gaelic, church Latin, old lyrics, and Irish and English slang of many colors all coming together in one long, frank, credible, and humane tale of lock-up in three English detention institutions during WWII, this is your book.

    16. This book was hard at times with the cockney rhyming slang. But it was well worth it, because Behan changes from an idealistic IRA initiate to someone who realizes that it is impossible to live for an ideal. Borstal Boy is a good read for anyone who is conflicted about the disjunction between ideals and reality. In the end, as Behan would put it, it all comes down to people.

    17. An excellent insight into the mind of a young man and his machismo, not matter how long ago - and no matter how bizarre the context! Well-written and often funny, even self-deprecating (intentionally????) this tale is sad and funny at the same time and definitely describes human nature.Behan was a most delightful writer.

    18. Really glad I finally took up the book and read it. I watched the movie a few years ago and although I liked it, I like the book much better. It's more in depth and obviously more realistic, with a lot of songs that read like great poems. Sometimes it was a bit difficult to read because of the crossing out of some swearwords, but all in all I really enjoyed it.

    19. It's a story about a guy who thinks the IRA are good but then he goes to jail and has a really good time in jail and then thinks the IRA are not quite as good as he originally thought

    20. A lot more light hearted than I expected. One could learn a lot about diplomacy and getting along with people from Mr. Behan.

    21. Your enjoyment of this book depends upon how much you like Brendan Behan's narrative voice. I am absolutely charmed by his writing style, and would have been happy had this book been twice the length, as I feel I could listen to him forever. His writing style is so honest, vivid and witty. The narrative begins with a young Brendan, age 16, who is in Liverpool for the first time in his life. He is an agent of the IRA and is supposed to plant a bomb in Liverpool, but before he can do so, he is cau [...]

    22. A raw, powerful, moving, fascinating insight into life as a young Irish revolutionary and juvenile offender in the early years of World War II. A nostalgic story of reassessment and self-discovery.I read the book after watching the film. I absolutely loved them both and would highly recommend them. They were, however, different beasts. I would describe them as fraternal twins: from the same source, but very different. The book is macho, tough and emotionally retentive (a compliment rather than a [...]

    23. In 1939, 16-year-old Brendan Behan, a volunteer with the IRA, was arrested in Liverpool for possessing explosives. He says nothing about his intentions and little about his trial, but there'd been some deadly bombs planted in English cities and he was presumably planning to do the same. As he was under 17, the maximum sentence he could be given was 3 years in a Borstal, the name at the time for young offenders' institutions in England, and he tells the story of that time in this book, published [...]

    24. As the year closes I'm finishing those final PopSugar reading challenge categories, and political memoir was one I struggled in choosing. Most popular memoirs are heavy-handed propaganda released immediately before an election or simply very very long, and while I am certain that Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom is a book very much worth reading, it definitely had too high a page count for the rush towards the end of the year. (I still have one category left, and I can make it.)So I ended u [...]

    25. Written in the 1950s and set in the very early 40s in England; though WWII would typically be front and center at such a time, it is instead a distant echo because all our characters are incarcerated in juvenile prison - the Borstal of the title.More or less autobiographical, Behan is a 16-year-old product of an IRA family, who is apprehended in Liverpool with bomb-making materials before he succeeds in any action. Though the IRA members of his generation distanced themselves significantly from [...]

    26. The novel was published in 1958, and covers the period when Behan was in prison in England. He got out of Borstal (juvenile detention) in 1941 at the age of 18. The surprising thing is that he portrays the Borstal as rather pleasant, though maybe that's just because you see the prisons first, and it's a relief to get outside. He was at a Borstal where the boys worked a farm. There was plenty to eat, you got outside, you could read all you liked in the library in the evening, and there were no wa [...]

    27. Hilarious book. The humor and general good nature of the lil IRA boy surprised me, and I thought it would be a depressing read, but it was the opposite. Letting go of his hatred of the English and yet maintaining his own republican beliefs, Paddy grows into quite a young man. I'd like to reread his biography and get to the dramas just to get a fuller picture, because I forgot most of what I knew about Behan other than his sad end. And reading Borstal Boy made me proud of how he got through it al [...]

    28. So I've watched the movie multiple times. Reading the book is somewhat spoiled for me and the differences made in the adaptation are immediately apparent. The picture on the cover clearly shows that Shawn Hatosy is far better looking. Whatever ratings the movie is given the book is not G rated. Remember the it describes prison life. The language is of the lowest form of Cockney/Irish/English dialect laced with enough profanity to make a dockyard stevedore blush. These aren't choir boys. Fully ha [...]

    29. Absolutely fantastic story. An autobiography written from the point of view of a 16-year-old IRA terrorist in the British prison system during World War II. Behan writes very conversationally- he only slightly censors himself on swearing, but persists in the more colorful examples of foul vocabulary, as well as Cockney Rhyming Slang.In all, his storytelling is endearing and entertaining to say the least. Behan portrays himself as a proud Irishman, and a proud member of the IRA, but very well-edu [...]

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