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A Stinging Delight

David Storey

A masterpiece memoir by an extraordinary literary figure: rugby player, artist, acclaimed playwright and Booker Prize winning novelist.

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The third son of a coalminer, David Storey takes us from his tough upbringing in Wakefield, to being ‘sold’ to Leeds Rugby League Club, to his escape to the Slade School of Art and his life in post-war London. He describes shocking scenes in the seventeen deprived East End schools in which he taught. He documents the childhood death of his eldest brother, addressing much of the memoir to him and exploring how this relates to his own sometimes paralysing depression, which haunted most of his life. And yet, a prolific and celebrated writer, he recalls heady spells in New York, close relationships in the theatre with Joycelyn Herbert, Ralph Richardson and Lindsay Anderson, early success with This Sporting Life, and winning the Booker Prize for his novel Saville.

Critic Reviews

‘Mesmerising...its abiding quality is, in the end, a kind of fearlessness.’

The Times
Critic Reviews

‘Perhaps his most remarkable and gripping work.’ Spectator

Critic Reviews

‘Full in equal parts of vividness and pathos.’

New Statesman
Critic Reviews

‘This rivetingly honest memoir is not only a testament to his personal endurance but will, I hope, lead to a re-evaluation of his artistic achievement...I’ve not read any other memoir quite like it.’ The Oldie

Michael Billington, The Oldie
Critic Reviews

‘Storey’s work was deeper and riskier, drawing on misunderstanding and distance, death and disaster - the hallmarks of this posthumous memoir... A writer’s memoir derives its ultimate value from the degree to which it shines a light into the work. A Stinging Delight portrays post-war literary England from the edge of the party, and observes the rampage of class, the persistence of unfairness and the breakdown of idealism in the communities of the North, from the twilight pitheads of West Yorkshire to the crumbling Red Wall around Jarrow.’

Andrew O'Hagan, LRB
Critic Reviews

‘Not just a posthumous coda to a significant career, but a major work in its own right, and accessible to those who have never encountered a word Storey has written before...Reading this, digesting its raw humanity and stomach-churning home truths, I wish I could go back in time, and give him a hug.’