Obituary: Edward Pearce

Written By: Tribune web editor
Published: February 10, 2018 Last modified: February 10, 2018

Edward Pearce
March 28 1939-February 9 2018

We were saddened to hear of the loss of our colleague and valued contributor Edward Pearce, who died on Friday after a short illness.

A genuine journalistic maverick, and regular Tribune book reviewer, Edward Pearce courted controversy and as a result his career was always a roller-coaster. During the 1980s he was moved by the Daily Telegraph from sketch writing in the Commons to theatre reviewing because of his implacable hostility to Mrs Thatcher.

He was also strongly critical of the Soviet Union, stating that under Stalin’s rule it was “a mechanism for killing people distinguished from the Hitlerzeit only by motive”. But his trenchant attitude backfired spectacularly when he wrote an article wrongly blaming Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough disaster.

Pearce was born in Shropshire but brought up in Darlington before studies at St Peter’s College, Oxford. He twice stood unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate for the Labour party, including at Richmond in February 1974.

In 1977 he became a leader writer for the Daily Express, moving to the Telegraph two years later and contributed to the magazine Encounter. From 1987 to 1990, he was a columnist for The Sunday Times and after that for The Guardian and a sketch writer for the New Statesman. During that period he also wrote frequently for the Yorkshire Post, and was a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze.

Pearce wrote well-regarded biographies of Denis Healey, John Major, Pitt the Elder and Sir Robert Walpole as well as collections of political sketches and histories of electoral reform and Ireland.

He was married to Deanna (née Singer) since 1966, and has one child, Cecily (b. 1975), a musician and teacher. Our thoughts go out to them.