Joseph Pearce in 2007
|Born||1961 (age 53–54)
East London, England
Joseph Pearce (born 1961) is an English-born writer, and as of 2014[update] Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College (Tennessee) in Nashville, Tennessee. Previously he had comparable positions, from 2012–2014 at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire, from 2001–2004 at Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan and from 2004–2012 at Ave Maria College in Ave Maria, Florida. He is known for a number of literary biographies, many of Catholic figures. Formerly aligned with the National Front, a white nationalist political party, 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 Homeschool Connections, an online Catholic curriculum provider.
Pearce was born in East London, and brought up in Dagenham, England. At the age of fifteen he joined the National Front (NF), a far-right political party opposed to a multi-racial and multi-cultural United Kingdom. He was closely involved in NF organisational activities and first came to prominence in 1977 when, at the age of sixteen, he set up Bulldog, the paper of the organisation. Bulldog became associated with some of the most virulent NF propaganda. In 1980, Pearce became editor of Nationalism Today, in which he argued vehemently in favour of racial preservation, producing a pamphlet entitled Fight for Freedom! on this theme in 1982. Due to the White Supremacist nature of his articles, Pearce was twice prosecuted under the Race Relations Act of 1976, and served prison time in 1982 and 1985–1986.
A close associate of Nick Griffin, they were both attacked by Martin Webster for devoting too much time to writing for the Third Position magazine Rising and not enough to their NF duties. As a result, he joined Griffin in resigning from the NF 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.
Returning to the NF, Pearce became editor of Nationalism Today which supported the Political Soldier line within the NF. In this position he argued vehemently in favour of racial preservation, producing a pamphlet entitled Fight for Freedom! on this theme in 1984. Initially an enthusiastic supporter of the Political Soldier tendency, Pearce adopted their support for ethnopluralism and on this basis contacted the Iranian Embassy in London in 1984 to try to secure funding for the NF, although it came to nothing. However, as time went on Pearce, who came from a working-class background and so was much more popular with NF 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. 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. Between 1980 and 1985, Pearce had close ties to Italian neo-fascist leader Roberto Fiore, who was on the run from charges relating to the 1980 Bologna train station bombing.
As the Flag Group ran out of momentum, Pearce largely faded from the scene and took no role in the NF that emerged in 1990 under Ian Anderson. He attributes his subsequent religious conversion, from a culturally-Protestant agnosticism, to reading G. K. Chesterton, of whom he wrote a much-praised biography. He now repudiates his earlier views, saying that his racism stemmed from hatred, and that his conversion to Christian belief completely changed his outlook.
Pearce was also a member of the Orange Order and, between 1978–1985, a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland. During his visits, he established close and friendly relationships with the Ulster Defence Association leader Andy Tyrie, Ulster Freedom Fighters leader John McMichael and Ulster Volunteer Force member George Seawright. Despite his sympathy for the 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." 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."
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." After the broadcast, Pearce was astonished when Burns invited him to share a pint at a local pub. During their drink, 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 this encounter with Burns as one of many, "lights of clarity that led the way out of the darkness."
Pearce attributes his subsequent religious conversion from a culturally-Protestant agnosticism to Roman Catholicism in part to reading G. K. Chesterton, whose biography he later wrote. He now repudiates his former views, saying that his racism stemmed from hatred, and that his conversion has completely changed his outlook.
As a Catholic author, he has focused mainly on the work of Catholic English writers, such as J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. His book Literary Converts, published in 1999, captures this interest and showcases the process of conversion of many writers who became convinced Catholics. Pearce has also promoted the social doctrine of the Church, in particular Distributism as a Catholic economic system. 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.
- 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 9781586176846.
- Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love. Charlotte, North Carolina: St. Benedict Press. 2013. ISBN 978-1-61890-065-4.
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. Also on EWTN, Pearce was the host for a special hour-long program broadcast Dec. 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 strong Catholicism. For example, he draws a parallel between Boromir's death scene and the sacrament of penance. The program broadcast again Dec. 16, 2014.
- Joseph Pearce, "Race with the Devil"
- Searchlight, December 1984.
- N. Copsey, Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, p. 34
- Searchlight magazine, January 1984
- M. Durham, 'Women and the National Front', L. Cheles, R. Ferguson & M. Vaughan (eds.), Neo-Fascism in Europe, London: Longman, 1991, pp. 265-6
- Ray Hill with Andrew Bell, The Other Face of Terror, London: Grafton, 1988, p. 254
- 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
- R. Hill with A. Bell, The Other Face of Terror, London: Grafton, 1988, pp. 173-4
- Pearce (2013), pages 113–116.
- J. Pearce, Race with the Devil
- Pearce (2013), pages 108–109.
- Pearce (2013), pages 112–113.
- Searchlight magazine, February 1986.
- Pearce (2013), page 112.
- Pearce (2013), page 111.
- Pearce (2013), pages 140–141.
- Kate Duffern, Review of Literary Converts. Catholic Insight, 1 May 2001.
- Small is Still Beautiful
- The Quest for Shakespeare. EWTN website, Accessed 5 May 2009.
- Personal site
- Autobiographical page
- Saint Austin Review
- Clips of Joseph Pearce speaking about his conversion: 1, 2
- Joseph Pearce speaks about his conversion
- The Quest for Shakespeare, EWTN's page for the TV show