George Friel (1910-75) was born and brought up in a two-room flat in Maryhill Road in Glasgow, the city where he was to live and work in all his life. Educated at St Mungo’s Academy, he was the only one in a family of seven children to got to University where he took an Ordinary MA, before training as a teacher at Jordanhill College. He married his wife Isobel in 1939 and the couple moved to Bishopsbriggs where they resided for the rest of their days. When war broke out Friel served in the RAOC before returning to teaching, a profession he gradually came to hate and distrust, although he never lost his concern for children. He became assistant head of a primary school before retiring in the early seventies. Such experience became the basis of his novels.
Friel’s first novel was The Bank of Time (1959). In all his books he determined to write about the everyday lives of ordinary people from his working-class background. His rather dark sense of humour and a rigorously intellectual style did not make him a popular author although The Boy who wanted Peace (1964) sold well after its appearance on television. Grace and Miss Partridge (1969) was followed by Mr Alfred M.A. (1972), perhaps his most powerful novel. An Empty House appeared after the author’s death from cancer in 1975. His short stories were collected and published posthumously as A Friend of Humanity (1992).