BEHAN, Brendan  [1923-1964]

Brendan Behan’s fame was based upon his literary achievements coupled with an alcohol-fuelled violently iconoclastic public life. With such notable plays as The Hostage and The Quare Fellow and his best-selling memoir Borstal Boy behind him he died aged just 41 from the effects of his lifelong drinking.

His sojourn in Liverpool came when he was just 16 and most of his time here was spent in Walton Gaol where he was on remand after being arrested in possession of bomb-making equipment. Prior to his arrest he was lodging at 17 Aubrey Street L6 which stood where there is now open ground adjacent to the Everton Water Tower. Having just been recruited into the IRA Behan had barely set foot in Liverpool before he was being tailed by the police, informed of his mission by their Irish counterparts. Arrested at the house in Aubrey Street he remained in Walton Gaol until his trial in February 1940 when he was found guilty and sentenced to three years borstal detention. His time in Walton and Hollesley Bay borstal in Suffolk were the subject of his autobiographical Borstal Boy.

Aubrey Street L6

A view of Aubrey Street before its demolition.

HM Prison Walton, Behan's unhappy home for about two months in 1939-40.


Besides the aforementioned Borstal Boy  [Brendan Behan 1958] the biography Brendan Behan: A Life [Michael O'Sullivan 1997] gives a good account of his brief IRA foray in Liverpool. There is a lengthy documentary on YouTube entitled A Hungry Feeling: The Life and Death of Brendan Behan