Joseph Pearce

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Joseph Pearce
Pearce in 2007
Pearce in 2007
Born (1961-02-12) February 12, 1961 (age 59)
East London, England

Joseph Pearce (born February 12, 1961), is an English-born American writer, and as of 2014 Director of the Center for Faith and Culture [1] at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, before which he held positions at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire, Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan and Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida.

Formerly aligned with the National Front, a white supremacist group, he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1989, repudiated his earlier views, and now writes from a Catholic perspective. He is a co-editor of the St. Austin Review and editor-in-chief of Sapientia Press. He also teaches Shakespearian literature for an online Catholic curriculum provider.

Joseph Pearce has authored biographies of literary figures, including The Quest for Shakespeare, Tolkien: Man and Myth, The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, C. S. Lewis and The Catholic Church, Literary Converts, Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile and Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc. His books have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Croatian, and Polish.


Early life

Pearce was born in Barking, London, and brought up in Haverhill, Suffolk, where his younger brother Stephen Pearce was born on St. Stephen's Day, 1962. [2] Their father, a school dropout and carpenter named Albert Arthur Pearce, had been born in the East End of London in 1930 and had spent the Second World War as an evacuee in rural Norfolk and Somerset. [3] Arthur Pearce, according to Joseph, was a passionate autodidact with an encyclopedic knowledge of English literature and British military history. [4]

As a young man, Arthur had often gotten into brawls in London pubs against Irish Catholics and his, "volcano of vindictiveness against the Irish erupted with new and vitriolic force," after the outbreak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland during the late 1960s. [5] Joseph has written that his anti-Catholicism was something "I learned at my father's knee." [6]

Arthur objected to the mass immigration of people of colour into Britain that had followed the 1948 British Nationality Act. According to Joseph, Arthur viewed immigration and multiculturalism as "threatening the very future of British nationhood and the British national identity." [7] In August 1973, when Joseph was twelve years old, his father, who was concerned that his sons were growing up with Suffolk, rather than Cockney accents, moved the family back to Barking. The move was also occasioned by the loneliness of Pearce's mother, whose relatives were all still living in London's East End. [8] [9]


While Pearce has written that it would be an exaggeration to say that he was a model student during his years at Haverhill, he was, "well-adjusted and popular with both my peers and the teachers. All of this was destined to change in the progressive atmosphere of Eastbury comprehensive school." [10]

Pearce later wrote, "My descent into delinquency was aided and abetted by the progressive philosophy adopted by the school. No effort was made to impose discipline, which resulted in the triumph of anarchy in the classroom and survival of the fittest in the playground. In the former, the disruptive elements made it difficult, if not impossible, for teachers to teach and for students to learn. In the latter, the school bully and his coterie of friends ruled the roost, making life miserable for everyone else and making playtime a time of fear. I joined the disruptive elements and remember with lasting repugnance the war of attrition I conducted against a young Pakistani mathematics teacher. My racism was now ripening into hatred and my English pride resented being subject to a non-White immigrant. I made this poor teacher's life hell, on one occasion throwing a chair at him and on another driving him to such fury that he lashed out a kicked me as he ejected me from the classroom. I remember the young man's name to this day, though I'm guessing he would be in his mid-sixties now, and wish I could apologize for my abominable behavior towards him." [11]

Pearce further recalls, "Although I suspect that the contempt with which I treated my teachers was due primarily to the general culture of anarchy that prevailed, it was accentuated by the animosity I felt towards the sort of education being offered. I had learned to loath Communism at my father's knee and sensed the Marxist flavor of many of the lessons. My physics teacher openly confessed that he was a member of the International Marxist Group, though I'm not sure it would have been very easy to insinuate a Marxist interpretation of the laws of thermodynamics! It was, however, much easier to insert a quasi-Marxist agenda into the teaching of history and literature." [12]

National Front

At 15, Joseph joined the youth wing of the National Front, a far-right political party opposed to immigration into the United Kingdom. At the time large numbers of immigrants from India and Pakistan were moving into Barking. Gang violence between White and South Asian East Enders was commonplace and the youth wing of the National Front, which Pearce has described as "an emerging force... that demanded the compulsory repatriation of all nonwhite immigrants" already had many other members in the tenement where the Pearce family lived. [13]

Battle of Lewisham

When Pearce was 16, he and his father attended the National Front march on August 13, 1977 that turned into the Battle of Lewisham, which Pearce has dubbed, "the worst political riot in England since the infamous Battle of Cable Street in 1936 at which a violent demonstration by the Communist Party succeeded in preventing a march through London's East End by the British Union of Fascists." [14]

Pearce has written that although, "the actual events of the day are now something of a blur", he noticed when he arrived at the assembly point that the attendees were very different than he was used to, "On the previous marches, a substantial portion of those in attendance were middle-aged and elderly people, including many veterans of the Second World War. Many of these had stayed away, no doubt fearing the likely violence and feeling that their fighting days were over. In their place were hundreds of young people, many of them football hooligans, who were as attracted by the prospect of violence as the older NF supporters had been deterred by it." [15]

According to Pearce, "All hell broke loose as the NF march passed by the street on which the police had cordoned off the thousands of counter-demonstrators. At first we were showered by bricks, bottles, and other missiles hurled by our opponents. Then, as the rear of the NF march, of which I was a part, passed by our rioting opponents, the counter-demonstrators broke through the police lines and a wave of anger and hatred hit our ranks." [16]

Pearce recalls throwing punches and being punched in return. Then, as the counter-demonstrators seized and pulled down the Barking Branch banner behind which Pearce had been marching, Pearce was caught up in one of the banner poles and dragged among the Left Wing rioters. He later recalled that he was wearing a National Front t-shirt with a large Union flag and only narrowly managed to return to his friends before being identified and "beaten to death." Soon after, the NF left the area under police escort. Pearce later wrote, "Long after we had returned home, the counter-demonstrators were still rioting in the street, attacking the police, and looting shops. More than two hundred people were arrested that day and more than a hundred were injured. My father was astonished that nobody was killed." [17]

Pearce has since described Lewisham as a "watershed": "Prior to that, the marches were mainly comprised of middle-aged, middle-class people. There were squadron leaders, Second World War veterans. And then with the increase of violence and the media interest before Lewisham a lot of the older people stayed away, because there was clearly going to be a riot and they didn’t want to be part of it." "[T]he skinhead thing came back. Lots of football hooligan types who were racist came along for the fights. The violence from the extreme Left provoked violence in reaction. Then it got out of control, with thousands of football hooligans and skinheads, and then what you saw was 2,000 bald young men walking down the street doing Nazi salutes." [18]


Pearce first came to prominence in 1977 when, at the age of sixteen, he set up Bulldog, the paper of the organisation. At the time, Pearce had just graduated high school and was a student at South Bank Polytechnic, which expelled him following complaints from non-white and Left-Wing students. Within weeks, Pearce, "became one of the most widely known members of the National Front", and in January 1978, he began working for the Party as a, "full-time revolutionary." [19]

Pearce recalls, "I modelled Bulldog on the low-brow tabloid press, keeping the articles short and direct, and always with an angry teenage readership in mind. This made the content highly offensive to all but the most racist of readers. I started the 'Bulldog' Black List', encouraging students to send details of so-called 'red teachers.' I published not only the teachers' names but also their addresses and phone numbers. Several teachers complained in the media is receiving threatening phone calls and offensive material in the mail and, on at least one occasion, of being assaulted in the classroom. Bulldog also initiated the 'Racist League', which encouraged football hooligans to send in reports of racist abuse and racist chants at soccer games. Fans of rival teams sought to outdo each other and become too of the League. Fans of Chelsea, Leeds, West Ham, and Newcastle were among the most racist." [20]

Pearce continues, "Although I would deny the charges in court, it would be true to say that Bulldog's ultimate purpose was to incite racial hatred. The strategy was simple. We had to stir up enmity and hatred between black and white youths, thereby making multi-racialism untenable and a race war inevitable... The strategy was identical with Trotskyism. The only difference was that Trotskyites, such as our sworn enemies in the Socialist Workers Party, sought to incite class hatred in order to bring about a class war while we endeavored to incite racial hatred to bring about a race war." [21]

Pearce has also written in his memoirs that the other purpose of setting up Bulldog was to dare the Director of Public Prosecutions to put him on trial for violating the Race Relations Act 1976. If the DPP did so, the NF intended to paint Pearce as a political prisoner. If, on the other hand, the DPP did not prosecute Pearce for violating the Act, then it meant that the Act was effectively dead.

At the age of 17, Pearce wrote an article for the National Front affiliated magazine Spearhead, titled, "Red Indoctrination in the Classroom." In his memoirs, Pearce writes that the article, "critiqued the Marxist orientation of my high school education." [22] Pearce pointed out in his article that the only history taught was British social history from 1815 to 1914, with an emphasis, "on acts of Parliament and movements, mostly avowedly socialist, agitating for political reform." To Pearce, who had been raised on stories of British military history, the exclusion from the curriculum of the victories of the Duke of Wellington and Horatio Nelson in the Napoleonic Wars and the sacrifices of British and Commonwealth Servicemen during the First World War was nothing less than an outrage. [23]

In the same article, Pearce also critiqued which works of English literature were being taught in the classroom. The set texts were, William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the war poetry of Wilfred Owen, George Orwell's Animal Farm, and Arnold Wesker's Chicken Soup with Barley. Pearce criticized the choice of Romeo and Juliet over the Bard's history plays, particularly Henry V. [24]

Pearce later wrote, "In my youthful judgment (and ignorance), the history plays highlighted the greatness of the English people, which the Marxists were at pains to studiously ignore. The selection of Wilfred Owen's war poetry was seen as an excuse to preach an anti-war message and to highlight the work of a coward who ridiculed the glory and honor of laying down one's life for one's country. Orwell's Animal Farm and Wesker's play were selected because they were nothing more than anti-Fascist propaganda. Wasn't Orwell a Communist who fought for the Reds in the Spanish Civil War? Wasn't Wesker not only a Communist, but a Jew? What further proof was necessary that such work should not be allowed to sully the minds of impressionable youth? Such was the judgement of the angry teenager on the education he had so recently completed." [25]


In his 2013 memoirs, Pearce writes, "Although the NF's position was always to deny strongly that it was a Neo-Nazi Party, one could not graduate to the inner-sanctum of the cognoscenti within the Party without tacitly accepting Nazi ideology and without secretly regretting the defeat of Hitler and the Third Reich." [26]

For this reason, the Young National Front, of which Pearce was elected chairman, was intended, "to become an army of race warriors, a new Sturmabteilung, the storm troopers of the new Order." [27]

Also, Pearce's, "education in racial nationalist ideology included a broad reading of essential Nazi 'classics'", such as Mein Kampf, the memoirs of Benito Mussolini, the speeches of Joseph Goebbels, Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and the memoirs of Iron Guard founder Corneliu Codreanu. [28] Senior National Front members were also expected to read Holocaust denial literature and the pseudohistory of David Irving. [29]

The books of Richard Dawkins, particularly The Selfish Gene, were also extremely popular, "amongst the NF intelligentsia." [30] Pearce adds, "I remember excited conversations in which Dawkins' ideas were used to justify racism, racial selection, and racial segregation, all of which, thanks to interpretations of Dawkins' arguments, were considered beneficial to the evolution of the species." [31]

Furthermore, NF members who disagreed with the Party's Leadership were routinely called " Strasserites", after the three brothers who challenged Hitler's control of the Nazi Party.

The Troubles

During The Troubles, Pearce was, as he describes in his memoirs, a "fanatical," supporter of Ulster Loyalism and learned to sing Loyalist ballads such as The Sash My Father Wore, No Surrender, and The Old Orange Flute. [32]

Pearce first visited Northern Ireland to participate in an October 1978 riot by the Protestant Ulster Scots Loyalist population of the Waterside district of Derry. [33] Following his return to mainland Britain, Pearce became a member of the Anti-Catholic secret society known as the Orange Order and, "learned it's rituals, it's secret handshake, and it's annual passwords." [34] Pearce remained, until 1985, a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland. During his visits, Pearce established close and friendly relationships with Ulster Scots terrorists like Ulster Defence Association leader Andy Tyrie, Ulster Freedom Fighters leader John McMichael [35] and Ulster Volunteer Force member George Seawright. [36] [37]

Despite his sympathy for Ulsters's Protestant Loyalists, Pearce rebuffed all attempts to recruit him into the violent aspect of the Troubles. He has written, "For all my extremism, I had no desire to kill anybody, or to have someone kill anybody for me." [38] Pearce has also written, "In spite of my own unwillingness to become too directly involved in the terrorist operations in Northern Ireland, I was very aware, as were the leaders of the UVF and UDA, that National Front members serving with the Army in Northern Ireland were smuggling intelligence information on suspected IRA members to the Loyalist paramilitaries. This information included photographs of suspected IRA members, the type of car they drove and its registration number, and other useful facts. I have little doubt that this information was used by the UVF and UDA to target and assassinate their enemies." [39]

In 1979, Pearce was invited to a debate about immigration on BBC Radio 1 alongside a member of the Anti-Nazi League, and Stiff Little Fingers frontman Jake Burns. Pearce has written that he remembers little of the debate, "beyond the obvious vituperative exchanges between me and the equally acrimonious young person who represented the Anti-Nazi League." [40] After the broadcast, Pearce was astonished when Burns invited him to have a pint together at the local pub. During their chat in the pub, Burns, who was known for, "seeking peace in Northern Ireland while I was preaching total war," attempted to gently persuade Pearce to reconsider his opinions. Pearce has called his meeting with Burns one of many, "lights of clarity that led the way out of the darkness." [40]

In 1980, Pearce became editor of Nationalism Today, in which he argued vehemently in favour of white supremacy.

First prison term

In 1981, the Director of Public Prosecutions, as Pearce recalls in his memoirs, "took the bait, or called my bluff." [41] Pearce was, "charged with publishing material likely to incite racial hatred and was tried at the Old Bailey to the accompaniment of national media coverage." [42]

Pearce's defense counsel made the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press a major part of his case and quoted the famous maxim attributed to Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." [43] Pearce's barrister, "concluded his summing up to the jury by suggesting that mine was a rather small and largely insignificant voice, if perhaps an eccentric and ugly one, and that the use of the Race Relations Act to silence me was like taking a huge sledgehammer to crack a tiny nut." [44]

The trial resulted in a hung jury and Pearce left the Old Bailey a free man, "to the cheers of a crowd of supporters who sensed that a great victory had been won. The victory would be short-lived. A few months later, I would be re-tried on the same charges, found guilty on a majority verdict, and sentenced to six months in prison." [45]

After being convicted of violating the Act and sentenced in January 1982, Pearce recalls that he, "screamed defiantly at the judge who had sentenced me, warning him as I was dragged away by the prison guards that the day would come when he would face his own judgement at the hands of the British people." [46]

Due to the white supremacist nature of his articles, Pearce was twice prosecuted under the Race Relations Act of 1976, [47] and served prison time in 1982 and 1985–1986. [48]

Factional disputes

He was a close associate of Nick Griffin, and both were attacked by Martin Webster for devoting too much time to writing for the Third Position magazine Rising and not enough to their National Front duties. [49] As a result, he joined Griffin in resigning from the National Front in November 1983 before circulating a statement in which they complained about Webster's role in the party. The statement claimed that Pearce and Griffin were leaving to avoid a Webster-led witch hunt and it had the effect of ensuring the removal of Webster from his post as National Activities Organiser. [50]

Returning to the NF and to being the editor of Nationalism Today, Pearce now supported the Political Soldier line within the NF. In his memoirs, Pearce writes the new group had its origins with Italian neo-fascist leader Roberto Fiore, who was on the run from charges relating to the 1980 Bologna train station bombing and whom the NF was hiding in Britain between 1980 and 1985. According to Pearce, Fiore and his followers considered themselves "Political Soldiers" and that their views became very popular within the NF. In his 2013 memoirs, Pearce expresses a belief that Fiore and his organisation were not involved in any way with the train station bombing and that the ruling Christian Democratic Party of Italy was using the attack as a pretext to stage "a witch-hunt," targeting their opponents on the Italian far-right. [51]

As a spokesman for the Political Soldier group, Pearce continued arguing in favour of white supremacy, publishing a pamphlet on this theme entitled Fight for Freedom! in 1984. [52] In his memoirs, Pearce recalls that Fight for Freedom! was written in secret during his first prison term and that, upon his release, the handwritten pages were smuggled out inside the envelopes of the letters he had received. [53]

Pearce also adopted the group's support for ethnopluralism and on this basis contacted the Iranian embassy in London in 1984 and tried in vain to secure funding for the National Front. [54] However, as time went on, Pearce, who came from a working-class background and thus was far more popular with National Front skinheads than the rest of the university-educated Political Soldiers, became disillusioned with the lack of electoral activity and moved towards Andrew Brons. Before long Pearce became a full member of the Flag Group and was expelled along with the rest of that group by the Official National Front in 1986.

Pearce became a leading member of the new group and sought to extend their activities. A regular writer and editor for Flag Group publications, he contributed to the group's ideology, notably arguing in favour of distributism in a 1987 edition of party magazine Vanguard. [55] Earlier in his career, Pearce had even contacted John Tyndall to suggest the possibility of an alliance with the British National Party. The idea was considered by Tyndall but was ultimately rejected on the advice of Ray Hill and Charles Parker. [56]


As the Flag Group ran out of momentum, Pearce largely faded from the scene, having decided to convert to Catholicism during his second prison term. Despite efforts by Ian Stuart Donaldson to draw him back into the National Front, Pearce took no role in the organization that was led after 1990 by Ian Anderson. According to Pearce, "'A sound atheist cannot be too careful of the books that he reads.' So said C. S. Lewis in his autobiographical apologia, Surprised by Joy. These words continue to resonate across the years that separate me from the bitterness of my past. What is true of the atheist is as true of the racist, which is what I was. A hell of hatred consumed my youth. Eventually I stumbled out into the brilliance of Christian day, but, looking back along that path, I can see in my mind’s eye the literary candles that lit the way. There are dozens of candles bearing the name of G. K. Chesterton, of which Orthodoxy, The Everlasting Man, The Well and the Shallows, and The Outline of Sanity shine forth with particular brightness. Almost as many candles bear the name of Chesterton’s great friend, Hilaire Belloc, and several bear the name of John Henry Newman. And, of course, there is the flickering presence of Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. These and countless others light the path by which I’ve traveled." [57]

Pearce's conversion to Catholicism was influenced by the writer G. K. Chesterton


As a Catholic author, Pearce has focused mainly on the life and work of English Catholic writers, such as J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. In a 2019 interview about his Shakespearean scholarship, Pearce said, "I insist in my scholarship on reading the work objectively through the eyes of the author, which means we have to learn as much as possible about the author." [58]

Pearce's first book following his conversion was a biography of Otto Strasser, "the disillusioned Nazi and enemy of Hitler..." Due to his notoriety as a one-time senior NF member, Pearce decided to seek a publisher using a nom de plume. Recalling that the Loyalist ballad The Old Orange Flute tells of a fellow Orange Order member named "Bob Williamson" who also converted to Roman Catholicism, Pearce chose the pen name "Robert Williamson." The book about Strasser, however, was never published and the manuscript has since been lost. Pearce then decided to instead write a biography of G.K. Chesterton. [59]


Pearce writes, "A large part of my early years as a Catholic was spent on the researching and writing of my biography of Chesterton. I worked on the book from 1991 until 1995, in the tiny studio apartment in Norwich in which I lived, after returning home from my regular job. Most weekday evenings, from around 6:30 pm until around midnight, I would work diligently on this labor of love, immersing myself in all things Chestertonian." [60]

Pearce's biography of Chesterton was published, under the pseudonym of Robert Williamson, by Hodder and Stoughton in the summer of 1996. [61]

Pearce has also promoted Distributism as an economic system based on Catholic social teaching. His main contribution in this area has been his book Small is Still Beautiful, which takes up the theme proposed earlier by E. F. Schumacher in his book Small Is Beautiful. [62]


Pearce also writes, "At the beginning of 1997, The Lord of the Rings was voted the greatest book of the century in a nationwide poll. The response of the self-styled literati to Tolkien's triumph was an unhealthy and unholy mixture of ridicule and contempt: The Lord of the Rings was ridiculed and those who voted for it were treated with contempt." [63]

In Pearce's essay Letting the Catholic Out of the Baggins, he writes, "The writer Howard Jacobson reacted with splenetic scorn, dismissing Tolkien as being, 'for children ... or the adult slow.' The poll merely demonstrated, 'the folly of teaching people to read ... It's another black day for British culture.' Susan Jeffreys, writing in the Sunday Times, described The Lord of the Rings as 'a horrible artifact' and added that it was 'depressing ... that the votes for the world's best 20th century book should have come from those burrowing an escape into a nonexistent world.' Similarly, Griff Jones of the BBC's Bookworm program appeared to believe that Tolkien's epic went no deeper than the 'comforts nd rituals of childhood.' The Times Literary Supplement described the results of the poll as 'horrifying', while a writer in The Guardian complained that The Lord of the Rings, 'must be by any reckoning one of the worst books ever written.'" [64]

Pearce adds that, "Probably the most bitter response to Tolkien's triumph came from the feminist writer Germaine Greer", who lamented, "Ever since I arrived at Cambridge as a student in 1964 and encountered a tribe of fully-grown women wearing puffed sleeves, clutching teddies, and babbling excitedly about the doings of hobbits, it has been my nightmare that Tolkien would turn out to be the most influential writer of the twentieth century. The bad dream has materialized. At the head of the list, in pride of place as the book of the century, stands The Lord of the Rings." [65]

Pearce has commented on the British intelligentsia's reaction to the poll as follows, "Rarely has a book caused such controversy; rarely has the vitriol of the critics highlighted to such as extent the cultural schism between the literary illuminati and the views of the reading public." [66]

Pearce recalls in his memoirs, "Provoked by the supercilious ignorance of the critics, most of whom had clearly never even read Tolkien's masterpiece before dismissing it, I decided to write a book about Tolkien's life and work, concentrating on Tolkien's lifelong Catholic Faith and the ways in which, in the author's own judgment, The Lord of the Rings was, 'a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.' The book was published by HarperCollins as Tolkien: Man and Myth in 1998." [67]


In 1998, while still writing his book about Tolkien, [68] Pearce wrote to Gulag survivor and former Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn and expressed interest in writing a biography of him. Pearce mentioned in his letter that he had recently published a biography of G.K. Chesterton and that he hoped to correct what he referred to as the faults of Solzhenitsyn's other biographers by placing the writer's Christian Faith at center stage. Pearce did not expect to hear back, but Solzhenitsyn replied almost immediately and invited Pearce to travel to the Russian Federation so they could begin working on the biography. When Pearce arrived at the Solzhenitsyn family's residence, Alya Solzhenitsyn made a point of showing that her husband was collecting the Ignatius Press editions of the complete works of Chesterton. During one of their many interviews, Solzhenitsyn told Pearce that he considered Russia and the West to both be part of a single and threatened Christendom. [69] In his 2013 memoirs, Pearce compares Solzhenitsyn to Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell's 1984, but comments that the life story of Solzhenitsyn, unlike Orwell's novel, has a happy ending. [70]

Also in his memoirs, Pearce describes his meetings with Solzhenitsyn as "one of the greatest moments of my life. I am also gratified to know that the great Russian writer approved of my biography of him." [71]

Literary Converts

Pearce's book Literary Converts is about, "the way in which the Catholic Literary Revival constituted a network of minds energizing each other," and was largely researched inside the library of the University of East Anglia. [72]

In a 2020 article, Pearce recalled that, while researching Literary Converts, he reached out to Walter Hooper and asked to interview him about his friendships with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Hooper not only agreed to the interview, but he and Pearce bonded deeply over both their recent conversions to the Roman Catholic Church and their shared love for the writings of Lewis, Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton. Pearce and Hooper remained friends until the latter's death in 2020. [73]

Literary Converts was published in 1999 and consists of essays showcasing the process of conversion of many writers who became convinced Catholics. [74]

Oscar Wilde

About his 2000 biography of Oscar Wilde, Pearce has written, "I wrote The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde as a corrective to the meretricious myths surrounding Wilde's life, especially the nonsense propagated by Richard Ellmann in his confused and confusing biography. Whereas Ellmann and others had drawn a picture of Wilde as a moral iconoclast and (homo) sexual liberator, I highlighted Wilde's lifelong love affair with the Catholic Church, which was consummated on his death bed by his conversion in extremis." [75]

In 2005, Pearce recalled, "My research revealed, among other things, that Wilde had a lifelong love affair with the Catholic Church and that he considered his descent into homosexuality as his ' pathology.' Having recovered from his homosexual 'sickness', Wilde finally succumbed to the true love of his life when he was received into the Catholic Church on his deathbed. This hard evidence, combined with the orthodox Christian morality of the vast majority of his work, destroys the popular image of Wilde as a gay icon or as a pioneer of sexual (that is homosexual) liberation. Needless to say, this unmasking of their idol has led many homosexuals to question their attitude toward Wilde; it may also, one may hope, lead some of them to question their attitude toward homosexuality itself. Either way, the book is receiving considerable attention in the homosexual media and has given me the opportunity to discuss the whole issue of Wilde's moral position at public debates held in both London and San Francisco. Once again, as with Tolkien, the successful application of cultural apologetics reaches audiences who would never dream of attending an overtly Catholic meeting. May such encounters prove catalytic and fruitful!" [76]

New life, new world

Following his marriage and honeymoon in 2001, Pearce received a telephone call and a job offer from the President of Ave Maria College in Michigan, which would later become Ave Maria University in the Florida college town of the same name. The Pearces arrived in the United States on September 7, 2001. Pearce recalls that his first day of teaching classes at Ave Maria College was on the same day as the September 11 attacks, "making my arrival in the States something of a baptism of fire." [77]

C.S. Lewis

In a 2020 article about his friendship with C.S. Lewis' close friend and literary executor Walter Hooper, Pearce recalled, "In around 2001, someone at Ignatius Press contacted him to request an endorsement for a new edition of Christopher Derrick’s book, C.S. Lewis and the Church of Rome. He politely declined the request, suggesting that he didn’t think that Mr. Derrick’s book should be republished, on the grounds that it was too acerbically critical of Lewis. The editor at Ignatius Press then invited Hooper to write a new book on the subject of Lewis’ relationship with the Catholic Church. Since he was in the midst of his monumentally important work on Lewis’ letters, he was not able to accept; instead, he suggested that I would be the perfect person to write such a book. It is, therefore, thanks to Hooper’s intercession that I came to write and research my book, C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church, affording me the joyous opportunity to delve deeply into Lewis’ relationship with Catholicism, a subject that had intrigued and fascinated me for many years." [78]

Roy Campbell

Pearce has also written a 2001 biography of Anglo- South African poet and Catholic convert Roy Campbell, whose sympathies for Francisco Franco's Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War caused him to be labeled a Fascist by highly Left-Wing influential poets Stephen Spender and Hugh MacDiarmid. In an early version of cancel culture, Campbell has been deliberately left out of poetry anthologies and literature courses ever since.

Among other things, Pearce's biography reveals that, in 1923, Campbell lost his job as editor of the Durban literary magazine Voorslag and was subjected to social ostracism after both writing and publishing articles accusing his fellow White South Africans of parasitism and urging racial equality in British-ruled South Africa. Pearce also reveals that Campbell, a Catholic convert who had been living in Spain with his family before the outbreak of war, chose to side with the Nationalists due to personal experience with both Republican war crimes and the religious persecution of both the clergy and laity of the Catholic Church in Spain.

Pearce also reveals that, after being evacuated to England, Campbell rejected the efforts of Sir Oswald Mosley to convince him to join the British Union of Fascists and how an outraged Campbell once told Mosley to his face that he considered Fascism to be merely another form of Communism. Pearce also cites overwhelming evidence that Campbell not only supported the Allied struggle against Nazi Germany during World War II, but that he also insisted on joining the British Army despite being overage. Lastly, Pearce demonstrates that, during the early 1950s, Campbell joined fellow White South Africans Uys Krige and Laurens van der Post in denouncing Apartheid.

Pearce has also edited an anthology of Campbell's poetry and verse translations, which was published by Saint Austin Press in 2003. A second edition was published in paperback in 2018.

Cultural evangelist

In the introduction to his essay collection, Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, which was published by Ignatius Press in 2005, Pearce wrote, "In recent years, with the possible exception of Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ, the greatest opportunity to evangelize the culture through the power of culture itself has been the release of Peter Jackson's film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. As the author of Tolkien: Man and Myth and as the editor of Tolkien: A Celebration, both of which were published before the release of Jackson's movie, I found myself in the privileged position of being able to surf the wave of Tolkien enthusiasm that followed the in the wake of the release of each of the films in the trilogy. In spite of the efforts of Jackson and others to play down the importance of the Catholic dimension of Tolkien's masterpiece, I found myself giving talks on the Catholicism of The Lord of the Rings to audiences from all corners of the United States, not to mention Canada, England, Portugal, and South Africa. I have spoken to very large student audiences at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and several State universities. How else in this agnostic-infested age could an avowed Catholic give a lecture at a secular institution on Catholic theology to a captive, and for the most part captivated, audience? Although very few of those in attendance would have dreamed of attending a lecture on The Theology of the Catholic Church, they were happy to attend a lecture entitled Tolkien: Truth and Myth at which they received unadulterated Catholic theology. Such is the power of art to evangelize." [79]

In his 2017 stage play Death Comes for the War Poets Pearce weaves, "a verse tapestry," about the military and spiritual journeys of war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. [80]

In his 2013 memoirs, Pearce comments on how much his opinions, particularly of Owen, have changed since his days in the National Front, which considered Owen to be a coward and a traitor, " Wilfred Owen, 'me judice and begging to differ with my younger self, is one of the greatest poets ever to grace the English language. I have taught his poetry for years at the college level. Even so, he is very negative not merely about the war, on which his spleen was justifiably vented, but about everything else, almost to a nihilistic degree, and I always make a point of balancing his perspective alongside the poetry of Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon. My classmates and I would also have benefitted from such balance, preserving us from the somewhat jaundiced perspective of life and love, as well as war, which Owen instills in the reader." [81]


Joseph Pearce is the host of the EWTN television series The Quest for Shakespeare based on his book The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome. The show concentrates on the evidence that Shakespeare was a Catholic and consists of thirteen episodes. [82] Also on EWTN, Pearce was the host for a special hour-long program which was broadcast December 14, 2014, titled Tolkien: Elves, Hobbits, and Men. Pearce emphasized some elements of The Lord of the Rings which in his opinion are based on Tolkien's Catholic Faith. For example, Pearce draws a parallel between Boromir's death scene and the Sacrament of Penance. The program broadcast again December 16, 2014.

Personal life

After proposing to her inside of the Slipper Chapel at the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houghton Saint Giles, Norfolk, [83] Joseph Pearce married Susannah Brown, an American woman from California with family roots in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, in St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Steubenville, Ohio in April, 2001. [84] The Pearces spent their honeymoon at Lucca, in Tuscany, and in Rome, where they arranged to have their marriage blessed by Pope John Paul II. [85]

They have two children; Leo Pearce (born on St. Patrick's Day, 2002), [86] and Evangeline Marie Pearce (born Leap Year Day, 2008). [87] Leo Pearce was born with both Autism and Down syndrome. [88] Joseph Pearce is a supporter of Chelsea F.C.. [89]



  • Skrewdriver: The First Ten Years: The Way It's Got to Be!. London: Skrewdriver Services. 1987.
  • Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G. K. Chesterton. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1996. ISBN  0-340-67132-7.
  • The Three Ys Men. London: Saint Austin Press. 1998. ISBN  1-901157-02-4.
  • Tolkien: Man and Myth. London: HarperCollins. 1998. ISBN  0-00-274018-4.
  • Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief. London: HarperCollins. 1999. ISBN  0-00-628111-7.
  • Pearce, Joseph, ed. (1999). Tolkien: A Celebration. Collected Writings on a Literary Legacy. London: Fount. ISBN  0-00-628120-6.
  • Pearce, Joseph, ed. (1999). Flowers of Heaven: 1000 years of Christian Verse. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN  0-340-72220-7.
  • Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile. London: HarperCollins. 1999. ISBN  0-00-274040-0.
  • The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde. London: HarperCollins. 2000. ISBN  0-00-274042-7.
  • Bloomsbury and Beyond: The Friends and Enemies of Roy Campbell. London: HarperCollins. 2001. ISBN  0-00-274092-3. Published in the United States as Unafraid of Virginia Woolf: The Friends and Enemies of Roy Campbell. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books. 2004. ISBN  978-1-932236-36-1.
  • Small Is Still Beautiful. London: HarperCollins. 2001. ISBN  0-00-274090-7. Published in the United States as Small Is Still Beautiful: Economics as if Families Mattered. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books. 2006. ISBN  978-1-933859-05-7. (Book Review and Summary)
  • Campbell, Roy (2001). Pearce, Joseph (ed.). Selected Poems. London: Saint Austin. ISBN  1-901157-59-8.
  • Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc. London: HarperCollins. 2002. ISBN  0-00-274096-6.
  • C. S. Lewis and the Catholic Church. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2003. ISBN  0-89870-979-2.
  • Literary Giants, Literary Catholics. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2005. ISBN  978-1-58617-077-6.
  • The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2008. ISBN  1-58617-224-7.
  • Divining Divinity: A Book of Poems. Kaufmann Publishing. 2008. ISBN  978-0-9768580-1-0.
  • Through Shakespeare's Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2010. ISBN  978-1-58617-413-2.
  • Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in The Hobbit. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2012. ISBN  978-1-61890-058-6.
  • Shakespeare on Love. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2013. ISBN  978-1-58617-684-6.
  • Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Ho Lung and the Missionaries of the Poor. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2013. ISBN  978-1-61890-398-3.
  • Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2013. ISBN  978-1-61890-065-4.
  • Beauteous Truth: Faith, Reason, Literature and Culture. South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine's Press. 2014. ISBN  978-1-58731-067-6.
  • Merrie England: A Journey Through the Shire. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2016. ISBN  978-1-50510-719-7.
  • Monaghan: A Life. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. 2016. ISBN  978-1-50510-890-3.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)
  2. ^ Pearce (2013), pp. 35–37.
  3. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 25-26.
  4. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 28–29.
  5. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 27.
  6. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 5.
  7. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 27.
  8. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 10.
  9. ^ Pearce (2013), pp. 37–48.
  10. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 38.
  11. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 40–41.
  12. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 42–43.
  13. ^ Race with the Devil by Joseph Pearce
  14. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 58.
  15. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 58–59.
  16. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 59.
  17. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 59–60.
  18. ^ West, Ed: "The Diversity Illusion" (2013). Gibson Square Books. Chapter 2.
  19. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 61–62.
  20. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 62–63.
  21. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 63.
  22. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 42.
  23. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 42–44.
  24. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 44.
  25. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 44–45.
  26. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 81–82.
  27. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 63.
  28. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 81–85.
  29. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 85.
  30. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 79–81.
  31. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 79.
  32. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 100.
  33. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 100–103.
  34. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 103.
  35. ^ Pearce (2013), pp. 108–109.
  36. ^ Pearce (2013), pp. 112–113.
  37. ^ Searchlight magazine, February 1986.
  38. ^ Pearce (2013), p. 112.
  39. ^ Pearce (2013), p. 111.
  40. ^ a b Pearce (2013), pp. 140–141.
  41. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 67.
  42. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 67.
  43. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 67.
  44. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 67.
  45. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 67.
  46. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 2.
  47. ^ Joseph Pearce, "Race with the Devil" Archived 7 December 2004 at the Wayback Machine
  48. ^ Searchlight, December 1984.
  49. ^ N. Copsey, Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, p. 34
  50. ^ Searchlight magazine, January 1984
  51. ^ Pearce (2013), pp. 113–116.
  52. ^ M. Durham, 'Women and the National Front', L. Cheles, R. Ferguson & M. Vaughan (eds.), Neo-Fascism in Europe, London: Longman, 1991, pp. 265–6
  53. ^ Pearce (2013), p. 2.
  54. ^ Ray Hill with Andrew Bell, The Other Face of Terror, London: Grafton, 1988, p. 254
  55. ^ G. Gable, 'The Far Right in the United Kingdom', L. Cheles, R. Ferguson & M. Vaughan (eds.), Neo-Fascism in Europe, London: Longman, 1991, p. 262
  56. ^ R. Hill with A. Bell, The Other Face of Terror, London: Grafton, 1988, pp. 173–4
  57. ^ Race with the Devil by Joseph Pearce
  58. ^ Writer Joseph Pearce on the Case for Shakespeare's Catholicism America: The Jesuit Review, October 7, 2019.
  59. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 208–212.
  60. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 221.
  61. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 221–222.
  62. ^ Small is Still Beautiful
  63. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 226.
  64. ^ Joseph Pearce (2005), Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Ignatius Press. pp. 296–297.
  65. ^ Joseph Pearce (2005), Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Ignatius Press. p. 297.
  66. ^ Joseph Pearce (2005), Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Ignatius Press. p. 297.
  67. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 226.
  68. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 226.
  69. ^ Solzhenitsyn on Russia and the West by Joseph Pearce.
  70. ^ Pearce (2013), pp. 94–95.
  71. ^ Pearce (2013), p. 226.
  72. ^ Pearce (2013), p. 225.
  73. ^ A Friend and Faithful Servant of C.S. Lewis: Memories of Walter Hooper The Imaginative Conservative, December 14, 2020.
  74. ^ Kate Duffern, Review of Literary Converts. Catholic Insight, 1 May 2001.
  75. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 226.
  76. ^ Joseph Pearce (2005), Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Ignatius Press. pp. 16–17.
  77. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 229.
  78. ^ A Friend and Faithful Servant of C.S. Lewis: Memories of Walter Hooper The Imaginative Conservative, December 14, 2020.
  79. ^ Joseph Pearce (2005), Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Ignatius Press. pp. 15–16.
  80. ^ "Death Comes for the War Poets" An Interview with Joseph Pearce
  81. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 45.
  82. ^ The Quest for Shakespeare. EWTN website, Accessed 5 May 2009.
  83. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 228.
  84. ^ Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 226–228.
  85. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, pp. 228–229.
  86. ^ Pearce (2013), p. 231.
  87. ^ Pearce (2013), p. 234.
  88. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 231.
  89. ^ Joseph Pearce (2013), Race with the Devil, p. 36.

External links