Patric Pearse: the Triumph of Failure

Patric Pearse: the Triumph of Failure coverThere has always been argument about whether Pearse’s leadership of the Easter Rising in 1916 represented a failure or a triumph. Pearse, who found himself on Easter Monday proclaimed President of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Republic, took on himself the most bitter of roles at the finish: he was the first to make the move to surrender – and he was the first to be executed.

In this re-issued major biography, Ruth Dudley Edwards has placed Patrick Pearse in his historical, political and cultural context: she discusses his involvement with the Gaelic League, his role as a military leader in the nationalist movement and his claims as a socialist. Her account of his life does full justice to the story, recording its irony, absurdity and courage. This book will do much to arouse fresh interest in Patrick Pearse; it is sympathetic, balanced, meticulously researched, and above all highly readable.

Patric Pearse: the Triumph of Failure published by Gollancz / Irish Academic Press Ltd; New edition edition (1 Mar. 2006), 408pp. Available on Amazon.

The Irish Ambassador, publishers and authors at the launch at the Irish Embassy in London on 5 April 2006 of four books relating to Easter 1916. Ruth is the one in startling pink!

The Irish Ambassador, publishers and authors at the launch at the Irish Embassy in London on 5 April 2006 of four books relating to Easter 1916. Ruth is the one in startling pink!


Ruth Dudley Edwards has reissued her classic biography of Patrick Pearse; this riveting and well-written biography of the 1916 leader has stood the test of time and provides a fascinating reconstruction of the life and times of Pearse and his comrades. Unorthodox to the point of virtue, the reader will never think of Pearse or 1916 in quite the same way again; it is required reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century Irish history and politics.

Professor Tom Garvin

There are few worthwhile biographies for [twentieth century Irish history], one glowing exception being R. Dudley Edwards’s Patrick Pearse: The Triumph of Failure, which illuminates far more than its subject.

Professor Roy Foster

Beautifully written and painfully objective.

Sir Bernard Crick

History Today

Ruth Dudley Edwards has presented a balanced non-partisan analysis of the man and the triumph of his failure… a major contribution to the history of the formation of the Irish Nation.

Marian Keaney

Books Ireland

A thorough piece of scholarship — a biography well researched and well documented.

Cecil Harmsworth Kind

Books Ireland

This is a marvellous biography. Miss Edwards has taken Pearse down from his pedestal as a plaster saint and shown him as a human being. In the hands of his latest biographer, he merges as one of the remarkable figures in the history of the 20th Century.

Ulick O'Connor

Sunday Independent

Miss Edwards has worked wonders in restoring the personality… This splendidly written book transforms the study of Pearse by elevating it to a proper historical plane. Miss Edwards has succeeded in the daunting task of simultaneously rendering a signal service to Irish scholarship, to historical studies, and to the memory of Patrick Pearse.

Professor Joe Lee

Ruth Dudley Edwards has written a remarkable book which at a blow places her high among contemporary historical scholars.

Seán Ó Faoláin,

The Guardian

This book gives us the man in his complexity: poet, playwright, editor, plitical propagandist, nationalist, schoolmaster, soldier. It is balanced; it will probably annoy the hagiographers as a result; but it is a fascinating case history of the psycho-pathology of the idealistic but ruthless revolutionary.

Norman Jeffares

Yorkshire Post

It is when she comes to chart the way in which Pearse’s own peculiar combination of restless romanticism, vanity, ambition, spirituality and innocence led him really quite suddenly into bloody militant nationalism, that she performs an important service to Irish history, managing to do this without making him the traditional noble hero of the glass case, or un-noble either.

Robert Kee

The Observer

Excellent… this is a quite remarkable book.

Leon Ó Broin

The Times Literary Supplement

This book will fail to convince those who remain blind worshippers at Pearse’s shrine — particularly the revelations of his indebtedness, suppressed homosexuality and the unseemly wrangles in the Gaelic League and the Irish Republican Brotherhood. But in a balanced and restrained way, the biography is an eloquent damnation of the hatred and fanaticism that an innocent such as Pearse unleashed on Ireland and which still abounds today.

Robert Taylor

New Society

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This