This is the first full biography of Athlone-born writer John Broderick (1924–89), whose powerful Balzacian novels of life in the Irish midlands depict sexuality and Catholicism in a series of pungent tableaux and portraits drawn from vivid but entrapped lives. Son of a prosperous baker, the solitude of his childhood (compounded by boarding-school), an enveloping mother, homosexuality and alcoholism fuelled his fictions, from The Pilgrimage (1961) to An Apology for Roses (1973) and The Trial of Father Dillingham (1982). Self-exiled to Bath in England with his housekeeper during the 1970s, he became an astringent commentator on the rapidly shifting mores of the Irish scene. A neglected but powerful writer, his work complements that of his rival Edna O'Brien and holds up a mirror to an Ireland of the mid-twentieth century like no other novelist of his day. His writings, now celebrated in annual John Broderick Weekends instituted by the Athlone Rotary Club in 1999, are of increasing relevance and interest, and introduce a new generation of readers to this skilled scourge of Irish society, for whom life was 'something in the head, and almost never in the body'.