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Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

Teacher Man

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Reflecting on thirty years of teaching in New York, sometimes with highly unorthodox methods but with one burning desire, to keep the kids stimulated. Thoroughly enjoyable.

If you like Frank McCourt you might also like to read books by William Woodruff.

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Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt arrived in New York as a young, impoverished and idealistic Irish boy – but one who crucially had an American passport, having been born in Brooklyn. He didn't know what he wanted except to stop being hungry and to better himself. On the subway he watched students carrying books. He saw how they read and underlined and wrote things in the margin and he liked the look of this very much. He joined the New York Public Library and every night when he came back from his hotel work he would sit up reading the great novels.

Building his confidence and his determination, he talked his way into NYU and gained a literature degree and so began a teaching career that was to last 30 years, working in New York's public high schools. Frank estimates that he probably taught 12,000 children during this time and it is on this relationship between teacher and student that he reflects in ‘Teacher Man’, the third in his series of memoirs.

The New York high school is a restless, noisy and unpredictable place and Frank believes that it was his attempts to control and cajole these thousands of children into learning and achieving something for themselves that turned him into a writer. At least once a day someone would put up their hand and shout 'Mr. McCourt, Mr. McCourt, tell us about Ireland, tell us about how poor you were …' Through sharing his own life with these kids he learnt the power of narrative storytelling, and out of the invaluable experience of holding 12,000 people's attention came ‘Angela's Ashes’.

Frank McCourt was a legend in such schools as Stuyvesant High School – long before he became the figure he is now he would receive letters from former students telling him how much his teaching influenced and inspired them – and now in ‘Teacher Man’ he shares his reminiscences of those 30 years and reveals how they led to his own success with ‘Angela's Ashes’ and ‘'Tis’.


‘McCourt has a compulsion to tell us the story of his life, but he does it so well – modulating beautifully from ventriloquistically exact repro teen-speak to rhapsodic meditations on his midlife crisis – that one couldn’t possibly want him to stop. I wish I could have been in one of his classes.’ - Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Sunday Times

‘This memoir about teaching is unlike any other I have read: relatively mundane events and incidents shine against that backdrop of that pathetic, abused child.’ - Francis Gilbert, Sunday Telegraph

‘Damn entertaining…McCourt is a master raconteur.’ - Washington Post

About the Author

Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt’s first book, ‘Angela’s Ashes’ won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; it has sold 1.3 million copies in its Flamingo editions alone and tens of millions world-wide. For many years a writing teacher at Stuyvesant High School, McCourt performed with his brother Malachy in a musical review about their Irish youth. Frank McCourt died in July 2009.

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Book Info

Publication date

28th August 2006


Frank McCourt

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Harpercollins Publishers


Paperback (b Format)
288 pages


Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites

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