> Skip to content
  • Published: 10 February 2022
  • ISBN: 9781473589667
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

The Gift of a Radio

My Childhood and other Trainwrecks

  • Justin Webb



Candid, unsparing, surprising and darkly funny, Justin Webb's memoir of his 1970s upbringing is as much a portrait of a strange decade in our history as of his own dysfunctional childhood.

'Brilliantly illuminates the horrors and absurd snobberies of those times. A very fine memoir.' -Jonathan Dimbleby
'Justin is a great broadcaster because he sounds like a real human being. This hugely entertaining book helps explain why'. John Humphrys'Moving and frank ... A story of a childhood defined by loneliness, the absence of a father and the grim experience of a Quaker boarding school. It is also one of the most perceptive accounts of Britain in the 1970s.' Misha Glenny..................................

Justin Webb's childhood was far from ordinary.

Between his mother's un-diagnosed psychological problems, and his step-father's untreated ones, life at home was dysfunctional at best. But with gun-wielding school masters and sub-standard living conditions, Quaker boarding school wasn't much better.

And the backdrop to this coming of age story? Britain in the 1970s. Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and Free. Strikes, inflation and IRA bombings. A time in which attitudes towards mental illness, parenting and masculinity were worlds apart from the attitudes we have today. A society that believed itself to be close to the edge of breakdown.

Candid, unsparing and darkly funny, Justin Webb's memoir is a portrait of personal and national dysfunction. So was it the brutal experiences of his upbringing, or an innate ambition and drive that somehow survived them, that shaped the urbane and successful radio presenter we know and love now?

  • Published: 10 February 2022
  • ISBN: 9781473589667
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

Praise for The Gift of a Radio

This is very, very good. It is not only a vivid portrait of Justin Webb's young life but, deftly, of those times as well. He has a light touch but writes with great sensitivity, insight, and wit. It is touchingly self-revelatory but never mawkish. The absurd snobberies of the class into which he was born and reared are brilliantly illuminated. The portrait of his mother is painful and touching, tender and anguished. He is never self-pitying or self-regarding but there is much raw pain as well as candour in what he writes. A very fine memoir indeed.

Jonathan Dimbleby

On radio and television, Justin Webb comes across as one of this country's most relaxed and affable broadcasters. This moving and frank memoir tells a different story of a childhood defined by loneliness, the absence of a father and the grim experience of a Quaker boarding school. It is also one of the most perceptive accounts of Britain in the 1970s when the country was at its most stagnant and grey. But it is also a story of hope and how the gift of a radio changed the life of an unhappy little boy and put him on the road to becoming one of Britain's most trusted journalists.

Misha Glenny, author of McMafia

Justin is a great broadcaster because he sounds like a real human being. This hugely entertaining book helps explain why.

John Humphrys

I was gripped. This perfectly captures the unique in-betweenness of the 1970s. Justin Webb is both generous and critical, measured yet fierce in this account of an extraordinary childhood.

Richard Beard, author of Sad Little Men and The Day That Went Missing

Related titles