Publisher description for Seminary boy / by John Cornwell.

Bibliographic record and links to related information available from the Library of Congress catalog

Information from electronic data provided by the publisher. May be incomplete or contain other coding.


Born into a destitute family with a dominating Irish-Catholic mother and an absconding father, Cornwell grew up in London during World War II. After a dysfunctional childhood spent enduring the London Blitz, he was sent, at thirteen years old to Cotton College, a remote seminary for boys in the West Midlands countryside. For the next five years, Cornwell lived under an austere monastic regime, as he wrestled with his emotional and spiritual demons. In the hothouse atmosphere of the seminary he strived to find stable, loving friendships among his fellows and fatherly support from the priests, one of whom proved to be a sexual predator.

The wild countryside around the seminary, the moving power of church ritual and music, and a charismatic priest enabled him to persevere. But while normal teenagers were being swept up by the rock ’n’ roll era, Cornwell and his fellow seminarians continued to be emotionally and socially repressed. Secret romantic attachments between seminarians were common; on visits home they were overwhelmed by the powerful attractions of the emerging youth culture of the 1950s. But when they returned to Cotton College, the boys were once again governed by the age-old traditions and disciplines of seminary life. And like many young seminarians, Cornwell struggled with a natural adolescent rebelliousness, which in one crucial instance provoked a crisis that would eventually lead to his decision to abandon his dream of becoming a priest.

Cornwell re-creates this exceptional environment with brilliant writing and deep understanding of its religious and psychological background. Like Angela’s Ashes, SEMINARY BOY is peopled with vibrant characters, powerful suspense, religious nostalgia, and penetrating insights into a hidden world. It is bound to create a stir not only in the Catholic community but also among readers looking for an engrossing memoir.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Cornwell, John, -- 1940- -- Childhood and youth.
Cotton College -- Alumni and alumnae -- Biography.
Seminarians -- England -- Biography.