At the age of fourteen, the author left his home town of Alexandria, north of Glasgow, and travelled hundreds of miles to be educated and trained for the priesthood at an English monastery. By the age of twenty-five he had been ordained and was working in the slums of Glasgow. This book tells his story.
Year of Publication
* At a time when the world has urgently needed wise and compassionate leadership, this poignant memoir, written with the integrity, intelligence and wit that we expect from Richard Holloway, lays bare the ludicrous and entirely unnecessary mess we have made of religion Karen Armstrong * Leaving Alexandria is many things. It is a compelling account of a journey through life, told with great frankness; it is a subtle reflection on what it means to live in an imperfect and puzzling world; and it is a highly readable insight into one of the most humane and engaged minds of our times. It is, quite simply, a wonderful book -- Alexander McCall Smith * Richard Holloway's memoir is endlessly vivid and fascinating. It's the record of a mind too large, too curious and far too generous to be confined within any single religious denomination. His account of how a passionate, intelligent boy grew out of a poor and deprived background without ever losing touch with the humane values it gave him, will be a delight and inspiration to believers, non-believers, and ex-believers alike -- Philip Pullman * An enlightening walk through a life that encompasses West Africa, the Gorbals, rent strikes, the divided self and the question of grace -- Mark Cousins Scotland on Sunday * Exceptional...it is rare to find someone in whom intellectual and emotional intelligence combine so movingly -- Maggie Ferguson Intelligent Life * Nobody could fail to be intensely moved by the final chapters of his memoir ... a deeply lovable man; and what a wonderful book he has written -- Mary Warnock The Observer * Leaving Alexandria gives a profound sense of the benefits, as well as the difficulties, that accrue from taking a zigzag path through life ... it summarises an argument that a lot of people will find sympathetic, as well as compelling -- Andrew Motion The Guardian * Captures the bewildering range of churches within the Church ... Holloway certainly throws down the gauntlet - with a quiet, elegiac passion - to Christians who arm themselves in certainty ... They should read this wide, erudite book as a matter of urgency -- David Robson The Sunday Telegraph * This book offers quite unique insights into a troubled, contemporary religious mind. It also reminds us that, in Richard Holloway, Episcopal Edinburgh may have lost a thoughtful bishop but Scotland gained a unique social critic and commentator -- Alex Wood Lothian Life * This is a portrait of a formerly devoted Christian who, by confessing his faults and doubts to us, becomes exemplary, an Everyman, and a guide to how we too might lose faith without sacrificing our souls -- Alain de Botton The Times * This is a deeply moving and disturbing biography. Holloway, is a confident author, assured when recreating both the past and the feelings that moments evoked...A writer capable of considerable brilliance, an intellectual who can provoke thought, a genuinely good man trying to be better The Herald * Peppered with prose and poetry, the book underlines a profound love of literature. Holloway's own writing style is elegant and lucid, particularly when addressing religion -- James Carson The Skinny * This is an intellectual account which is thoughtful, starkly honest, and at moments touching in its understated wisdom and sensitivity ... an engaging examination of an individual's growth as a compassionate human being -- Catherine Larner We Love this Book * It absorbs and refreshes the mind ... it is the pleasure of following a good, restless mind through questions that afflict all but the most thoughtless -- John Lloyd Financial Times * Wise, sympathetic and absorbing ... it is a profoundly humane vision of what religion should be -- Jenni Russell Sunday Times * Beautifully written and dramaturgically candid -- Pat Kane The Independent * Leaving Alexandria is a profound, personal investigation of the virtues and flaws of religion and the most stirring autobiography I have read in a great many years. It is also a meditation on the nature of one's own identity -- John Gray New Statesman * At a moment when religious and atheistic attitudes are becoming increasingly hardened, the former Bishop of Edinburgh offers a timely reminder that faith shares a greater philosophical affinity with doubt than with certainty ... this wholly humane book chisels out an oasis for calm contemplation amid today's hysterical religious battlegrounds Metro * A beautifully written and often funny, emotional and intellectual self-exploration by one of the most extraordinary churchmen of our time -- Bryan Appleyard Sunday Times * His memoirs are not a chronicle of achievement but rather a study of failure and frustration. Marked by a searing honesty and an almost morbid sense of introspection, they make for a disturbing and unsettling read which brought me close to tears more than once The Tablet * [Leaving Alexandria] could have been a litany of self-justification, or an awakening to enlightenment. Instead, it's the book of his life: the engrossing log of a troubled, thoughtful, clouded journey from certainty to doubt -- Susannah Herbert Mail on Sunday * The book is beautifully written and full of wide knowledge of literature, art and music. It will help all who struggle to find the light. That means most of us West End Extra * A wonderfully honest and deeply moving reflection on the nature of doubt, saintly almost in its modesty - though Holloway might not like my saying so. A breath of fresh doubt that so many of us need, whether believer or nonbeliever, and I'm both -- MICHAEL MORPURGO * This is a gentle, rational book that is required reading for today's troubled world Daily Telegraph * Leaving Alexandria is a profound, personal investigation of the virtues and flaws of religion and the most stirring autobiography I have read in a great many years New Statesman * Publishers like to describe autobiographies as 'journeys', but it's a term this book deserves -- Alastair Mabbott the Herald * There's something to cheer on almost every page here, not least his enviable honesty about his personal shortcomings -- Arminta Wallace Irish Times * This voyage of discovery is the core of this wonderfully written, poetic telling of his chequered life and was one of the most acclaimed memoirs of 2012 Good Book Guide * This courageous book summarises an argument that a lot of people will find sympathetic, and compelling -- Andrew Motion Guardian * Highly absorbing and perceptive memoir Times Literary Supplement * An intelligent and insightful book Sunday Business Post * A profound and lyrical book -- Arifa Akbar Independent i * Unsparingly honest Spectator
Richard Holloway was Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. A former Gresham Professor of Divinity and Chairman of the Joint Board of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Leaving Alexandria won the PEN/Ackerley Prize 2013 and was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2013. Richard Holloway has written for many newspapers in Britain, including The Times, Guardian, Observer, Herald and the Scotsman. He has also presented many series for BBC television and radio.