Leaving Alexandria

A Memoir of Faith and Doubt

Richard Holloway

Dick leaves us in September and I feel sure he will receive your grateful prayers in his journey south, with the prayers of the faithful, that one day he shall return to Scotland and serve our Church in this dear land with perseverance, holiness, obedience and sacrifice
Leaving Alexandria by Richard Holloway (Paperback ISBN 9780857860743) book cover

Available as Paperback, eBook, Downloadable audio

A powerful memoir about faith and doubt, with a strong meditative and philosophical heart

Winner of the PEN/Ackerley Prize 2013.

At the tender age of fourteen, Richard Holloway left his home town of Alexandria, north of Glasgow, and travelled hundreds of miles to be educated and trained for the priesthood at an English monastery. By the age of twenty-five he had been ordained and was working in the slums of Glasgow. Through the forty years that followed, Richard touched the lives of many people as he rose to one of the highest positions in the Anglican Church. But behind his confident public faith lay a restless heart and an inquisitive mind.

Poignant, wise and fiercely honest, Leaving Alexandria is a remarkable memoir of a life defined by faith but plagued by doubt.


“At a time when the world has urgently needed wise and compassionate leadership, this poignant memoir, written with the integrity, intelligence and wit that we expect from Richard Holloway, lays bare the ludicrous and entirely unnecessary mess we have made of religion”
karen Armstrong

See more reviews

Leaving Alexandria is many things. It is a compelling account of a journey through life, told with great frankness; it is a subtle reflection on what it means to live in an imperfect and puzzling world; and it is a highly readable insight into one of the most humane and engaged minds of our times. It is, quite simply, a wonderful book”
Alexander Mccall Smith

“Richard Holloway’s memoir is endlessly vivid and fascinating. It’s the record of a mind too large, too curious and far too generous to be confined within any single religious denomination. His account of how a passionate, intelligent boy grew out of a poor and deprived background without ever losing touch with the humane values it gave him, will be a delight and inspiration to believers, non-believers, and ex-believers alike”
Philip Pullman

“An enlightening walk through a life that encompasses West Africa, the Gorbals, rent strikes, the divided self and the question of grace”
Mark Cousins
scotland On Sunday

“Exceptional…it is rare to find someone in whom intellectual and emotional intelligence combine so movingly”
Maggie Ferguson
intelligent Life


Richard Holloway

Richard Holloway was Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. A former Gresham Professor of Divinity and Chairman of the Joint Board of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Leaving Alexandria won the PEN/Ackerley Prize 2013 and was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2013. Richard Holloway has written for many newspapers in Britain, including The Times, Guardian, Observer, Herald and the Scotsman. He has also presented many series for BBC television and radio.