Colin Wilson wrote The Outsider, a brilliant account of the pain of being alive today, when he was just twenty four. Like Lord Byron. he woke up and found himself famous. The Outsider sold millions of copies around the world, and he was acclaimed as one of the leading intellectuals of the age. Because of his radically new attitudes he was - with John Osborne - dubbed an 'angry young man' in the article which originally coined that phrase. In this way a young man from a working class background suddenly found himself moving in the most colourful literary and artistic circles of the day. In his autobiography he tells stories about, among others, Aldous Huxley, Angus Wilson, John Osborne, Kingsley Amis, Kenneth Tynan, Francis Bacon and Norman Mailer - all observed with a true outsider's eye for absurdity. Always possessed of an unusually strong sexual drive, he shows a strong interest in the sexual experimentation which was such a feature of the sixties and seventies.
But perhaps an even greater theme is his interest in trying to discover and develop ways of controlling his own consciousness, so that he could attain 'peak experiences' at will and also, at intervals keep madness at bay. Many of his contemporaries accused Colin Wilson of betraying his youthful intellectual promise, by later writing bestsellers on subjects such as the paranormal and the mysteries of ancient Egypt, but in this return to the themes of The Outsider, looked at from the point of his own life story, he again proves himself one of the great intellectuals of our age, never ceasing to wrestle with the great questions of life and death, and writing with an erudition and an easy way with ideas that is rare in English literary life.
Colin Wilson was born in Leicester in 1931. His book The Outsider was published in 1956 and was almost unanimously hailed by reviewers as a masterpiece. He has gone on to write hundreds of books, and now lives in Cornwall with his wife, Joy.