Book review: Behan’s early columns reveal a young writer in love with words

A Bit of a Writer, edited by UCD professor John Brannigan, offers an insight into both the man and the Ireland he wrote about

Author Brendan Behan: hit the jackpot twice in 1958 with the phenomenal success of his play The Hostage and his autobiographical novel Borstal Boy. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty

My 40 years of earning a living as a jobbing writer has involved travel to festivals across the world and spending time backstage with authors I previously didn’t know. Listening to their conversations, I’ve learnt to differentiate the professional artists from the literary equivalent of Sunday painters.

The Sunday painters generally discuss art. The professional writers generally discuss money. At one reading, the Welsh novelist Bernice Rubens told me what it meant to become the ...