An appreciation of the author Colin Wilson (1931-2013) - philosopher, critic, novelist
* A new edition of Colin Wilson's The Strength to Dream: Literature and the Imagination, with a new introduction by Geoff Ward, is now published (October 2021) in paperback and Kindle versions by Aristeia Press. The book was originally published in 1962, and forms part of Wilson's 'Outsider Cycle'. Aristeia is to follow this with reissue of Origins of the Sexual Impulse (1963), which will have a new introduction by Colin Stanley.
* Introducing the Occult: Selected introductions, prefaces, forewords and afterwords by Colin Wilson, the material selected, edited and introduced by Colin Stanley, will be pubished by Axis Mundi early in 2022. Meanwhile, the reissue of Colin Wilson's 'Occult Trilogy' is now complete, with new editions of The Occult (1971), Mysteries (1978) and Beyond the Occult (1988), with forewords by Colin Stanley, all now available in 2021 from Watkins Publishing and Penguin Random House.
* Featured opposite is the promotional video for the Jason Figgis/John West film documentary being made in 2021 about the life and times of Colin Wilson.
* A new book of personal recollections of Colin Wilson – The Sage of Tetherdown – was published on June 28, 2020, but with only 50 copies produced by Paupers’ Press anyone interested should seek a copy now at £14.95, including post within the UK (email Colin Stanley at email@example.com). In 1988, Colin Wilson: a Celebration, edited by Colin Stanley, was published, being an eclectic mix of personal recollections and scholarly assessments of Wilson’s work by academics, but now out of print for many years. The new book reprints those personal recollections plus additional ones by Laura Del Rivo, Gary Lachman, Steve Taylor, Terry Welbourn and Colin Stanley, providing a broader picture of Wilson over the years. The title ‘Sage of Tetherdown’ was bestowed upon Wilson by Professor H D Purcell in his essay for Colin Wilson: a Celebration, and refers to the name of the Wilsons' home in Cornwall.
Geoff Ward, founder and manager of Colin Wilson World, recalls his meetings with Colin Wilson in a special article, 'The Sage and I', which can be found under Features on this website.
* The third international Colin Wilson Conference, which was to have taken place from July 3-5, 2020, at the Mercure Hotel, Nottingham, UK, was cancelled due to a medical diagnosis given to the organiser, Colin Stanley, who now hopes to reschedule the event in 2021. However, restrictions imposed during the coronavirus outbreak would probably have led to cancellation of the 2020 conference anyway.
* A new edition of Super Consciousness: The Quest for the Peak Experience, with a foreword by Colin Stanley, was published by Watkins in December 2019. The book was published originally by Watkins in 2009.
* A new edition of the classic Colin Wilson collection, The Essential Colin Wilson, first published in 1985, now updated and introduced by Wilson's bibliographer Colin Stanley, was published in May, 2019, as The Ultimate Colin Wilson: Writings on Mysticism, Consciousness and Existentialism (Watkins Publishing). It includes all of the original volume – for which the contents were selected, edited and introduced by Wilson himself – plus six essential post-1985 essays and chapters chosen by Stanley and other Wilson experts.
It provides a much needed update covering aspects of Wilson's work from the 28 years that followed publication of the first edition to his death in December, 2013.
It will be an invaluable introduction for those approaching one of the late twentieth century's most penetrating thinkers for the first time, as well as a timely reminder to Wilson's many fans and scholars worldwide of a unique and challenging body of work.
The Essential Colin Wilson is the only book to contain extracts from Wilson's most important work in one volume, including The Outsider (1956), A Criminal History of Mankind (1983), The New Existentialism (1966), The Occult (1971), New Pathways in Psychology (1972) and Mysteries (1978), and three of his novels.
* Transcripts of the papers presented on the first day of the second International Colin Wilson Conference, held in Nottingham, UK, in July 2018, were published, edited by Colin Stanley, by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in May, 2019, entitled Reflections on the Work of Colin Wilson and priced UK £58.99 (hardback).
Experts, scholars and fans from around the globe gathered at the conference to discuss Wilson-related topics including existentialism, the occult, the Austrian philosophical writer Robert Musil, classical music, transpersonal psychology and transcendental evolution.
* Two new booklets in the Paupers’ Press ‘Colin Wilson Studies’ series were published in March, 2019: The Lurker at the Indifference Threshold: Feral Phenomenology for the 21st century by Philip Coulthard and More than the Existentialist Outsider: Reflections on the work of Colin Wilson by Vaughan Rapatahana, each priced UK £7.95. Both make cogent cases for the serious study of Wilson’s philosophy of ‘new existentialism’ in academia and beyond which, they say, is long overdue.
* Interest in Colin Wilson’s works is growing in Italy, according to publishers there. For example, the independent publishing house Carbonio Editore has issued (in 2017 and 2018 respectively) the novels Necessary Doubt and The Glass Cage in Italian – both translated by Nicola Manuppelli, one of Italy’s most renowned translators from English – and Edizioni di Atlantide published Italian versions of The Outsider and Beyond the Outsider in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Giuseppe Sanfratello, of Carbonio Editore, told Colin Wilson World: ‘Congratulations for your website on Colin Wilson. We are really impressed. We share your passion for such a great writer and his tremendous work which we believe deserves much more attention. Thankfully, in Italy we are currently witnessing a sort of Wilson renaissance: more and more publishers seem to be rediscovering Wilson’s extraordinary works.’
* Routledge reissued Colin Wilson's Introduction to the New Existentialism in a hardback Library Edition in July 2019, priced £80. It is a reprint of the 1966 edition, with a short introduction Wilson wrote for the Wildwood House paperback (1980). Routledge Library Editions are expensive, short-run editions designed for academic libraries.
* Paupers’ Press has published My Interest in Murder (January 2019, £6.95), Colin Wilson’s unused autobiographical introduction to his Order of Assassins: the Psychology of Murder (1972). The original publishers, Hart-Davis, decided against using the essay which lay in a pile of manuscripts at Wilson’s home until discovered by his bibliographer Colin Stanley after the author’s death in 2013.
The original typescript of the revealing 40-page introduction, which includes valuable insights into the genesis of Wilson’s novels Ritual in the Dark (1960) and The Glass Cage (1966) as well as an explanation of how his interest in murder cases arose, is now held in the Colin Wilson archive at the University of Nottingham, UK.
Wilson provided a different, shorter introduction to Order of Assassins in which he described the book as completing his ‘murder trilogy’, following An Encyclopedia of Murder (with Pat Pitman, 1961) and A Casebook of Murder (1969).
* Eyewear Publishing has republished (October, 2018) Colin Wilson’s 1965 book Eagles & Earwigs: Essays on Books and Writers – an incisive work of existential criticism – under his preferred title: John Baker, the original publisher, to Wilson’s annoyance, changed the title to Eagle & Earwig. The new hardcover edition, of 412 pages (UK £15.99), with editorial notes by Colin Stanley and an introduction by Gary Lachman, is to be launched in London on October 24, 2018.
Wilson grouped the essays – some dating back to 1957 – into three parts: the first on the role of art, particularly literature, at a time when ‘a crisis has been reached in the history of human development’, the second on visionary writers whose work had engaged him, and the third on the problem of being a writer in the 20th century.
Even after more than half a century, the essays remain of great importance for the way Wilson deals boldly with the question literary academics and critics shy away from: the purpose and value of literature.
* A report by John Morgan, entitled 'Meeting to Some Purpose', of the Second International Colin Wilson Conference, held July 6-8, 2018, in Nottingham, UK, can be found by following this link to Counter-Currents Publishing.
* As of June 2018, it is possible to access lists of manuscripts in the Colin Wilson Archive at Nottingham University, UK. If, following this link, you click on the + signs, the sub-categorised individual manuscripts will appear and link to their catalogue records. The manuscripts are not available in electronic form, so this will not take you any closer to a manuscript. Readers are welcome to view the manuscripts in the Reading Room, or to request copies.
To inquire about a manuscript, quote the reference number (or identifier). Note there is a distinction between the Archive (manuscripts, letters, journals, etc) and the Colin Wilson Collection (mostly books and articles).
* Publisher Maurice Bassett is preparing The Selected Letters of Colin Wilson. Maurice recently acquired the Victor Gollancz archive of letters and documents related to The Outsider, including Wilson’s first letter to Gollancz from 1955. Maurice has accumulated more than 2,000 letters since he began the project – endorsed by Wilson himself – in 1991.
Maurice says it has been ‘a labour of love’ for him for a long time and it is now time to bring it to a conclusion. He asks anyone who has original letters by Wilson from the 1950s and 1960s to contact him (firstname.lastname@example.org) if they are open to the idea of having them considered for publication.
* French publishers L’Oeil du Sphinx are planning a translation of Colin Wilson’s ‘neo-Lovecraftian’ short story The Tomb of the Old Ones (1999) as a small book with an afterword on Wilson and H P Lovecraft. Meanwhile, Egypt’s National Centre for Translation, affiliated to the Ministry of Culture, is planning a translation into Arabic of Wilson’s A Criminal History of Mankind (1984, 2005).
* Brian Banks has updated and published his J-K Huysmans and the Belle Epoque: A Guided Tour of Paris, for which Colin Wilson wrote the introduction, ‘as an in memoriam to Colin Wilson's work and kindness’.
A tour of fin-de-siècle Paris, the book includes first translations from the French novelist’s own writings, a chronological bibliography of English language editions, studies and articles from 1880 to the present, and rare contemporary photos, many unpublished. The book – which can be ordered at email@example.com – was advertised under the title Phantoms of the Belle Epoque: the Parisian World of J-K Huysmans in 2011 but not published at that time.
* A new edition of Brad Spurgeon's 2006 book, Colin Wilson: Philosopher of Optimism, was published in December, 2017, by Michael Butterworth. It has a new preface by Spurgeon explaining how he found help in Wilson's 'philosophy of optimism' to cope with the death of his wife soon after publication of the original edition of the book.
* Proceedings of the First International Colin Wilson Conference, published on June 1, 2017, introduced and edited by Colin Stanley, is available, price £58.99, from Cambridge Scholars.
At 185 pages, it comprises the full texts of the papers given by nine Wilson experts – Simon Brighton, Professor Stephen Clark, Lindsay Siviter, Nigel Bray, Nicolas Tredell, David Moore, Gary Lachman, George Poulos and Dr Vaughan Rapatahana – covering a variety of Wilson-related topics, from existentialism to the occult, from H P Lovecraft to Jack the Ripper, and from science fiction to transcendental evolution.
* A new edition of Religion and the Rebel (1957), Wilson’s follow-up to The Outsider (1956), was published in October 2017 by Aristeia Press. Samantha Devin, co-founder of Aristeia Press, said: 'Publishers don’t care about quality or culture or values. They are flooding the bookstores with childish and shallow books. So we are doing what has to be done to feed those interested in serious books.’
Aristeia has also reissued Wilson's The Age of Defeat (1959), and Introduction to the New Existentialism (1966), reissued with a new preface by Wilson in 1980 as The New Existentialism).
* Colin Wilson's unfinished novel Lulu, taken from 176 pages of surviving manuscript, was published by Paupers' Press in February 2017 at £9.95, together with an introduction by Vaughan Rapatahana and Wilson's own notes about the work.
* The Department of Manuscripts at the University of Nottingham has digitised the original handwritten manuscript of The Outsider, which is available for researchers to view in the reading room. An appointment is necessary and, if you have not visited the department before, some ID will be needed in order to register as a reader.
* Paul Moloney of Bath, UK, sold his collection of nearly 130 Colin Wilson books after it was offered for sale at Colin Wilson World. The collection went to the library of the National Counselling Society, which is based at Worthing, West Sussexc, UK, where it will be kept complete and in a non-profit setting. Chairman of the society Chris Forester said: 'This will ensure our members have access to Colin Wilson's work which I think is vital for psychotherapists.'
* Bargaining with the Devil: The Work of Colin Wilson in a Cultural Context, by NIgel Bray, published in June 2016 by CreateSpace, seeks to place Wilson in a cultural context and so provide grounds for a re-evaluation of his achievement. See review under Reviews/2016.
* Colin Wilson: Collected Essays on Philosophers, edited by Colin Stanley, published by Cambridge Scholars in May 2016, comprises essays on 17 philosophers, several of whom Wilson met personally. All have been published before but mainly in obscure journals and by small presses.
Also edited by Colin Stanley, for Paupers' Press, is The Writing of Colin Wilson's Adrift in Soho, published July 2016. This booklet includes the full text by Charles Compton Street on which the first part of Adrift in Soho (1961) was based, Sidney R Campion on Adrift in Soho, plus Wilson's unpublished 'author's note' and an essay by Colin Stanley.
An Evolutionary Leap: Colin Wilson on Psychology, by Colin Stanley, published by Karnac in September 2016, comprises an essay on each of Wilson's nine major books on psychology. See Reviews section.
* An End to Murder – the book that Colin Wilson began before he suffered a stroke in 2012, and which was completed by his son Damon, was published in September, 2015. The book explores the possibility that humankind is on the verge of fundamental change: 'Human beings have always been cruel, savage and murderous. Is all that about to change?'
* Published in August, 2015, Novels to Some Purpose: The Fiction of Colin Wilson, Nicolas Tredell's definitive study of Colin Wilson's fiction, provides not only plot summaries and authoritative assessments of all the published novels and short fiction, but also sections on unpublished, proposed and incomplete work. It updates, and considerably expands, the previous editions published in 1982 and 2007. Order through your local bookstore, from Amazon, or direct from Paupers' Press (pauperspress.com) at £17.95.
* Now online in the Literary Encyclopedia: Nicolas Tredell's entries on each of Colin Wilson's six published plays - Strindberg, Mozart's Journey to Prague, The Death of God, The Metal Flower Blossom, Necessary Doubt and Mysteries. The Literary Encyclopedia is a subscription site but the opening passage of each entry can be sampled free at http://www.litencyc.com/ - Nicolas Tredell is the author of The Novels of Colin Wilson (1982), second edition 2007 as Existence and Evolution: The Novels of Colin Wilson, with the third edition forthcoming as Novels to Some Purpose: The Fiction of Colin Wilson.
* Feral House published an expanded edition of Ian Brady's book, The Gates of Janus (July, 2015). It contains new material including an extended edition of Colin Wilson's introduction in which he explains why he and Brady eventually fell out.
* Colin Stanley (pauperspress.com) published the ‘ultimate’ Colin Wilson bibliography in March 2015. It is the fourth and extended edition of this monumental work. Colin Stanley has written a foreword to the new Watkins edition of The Occult, published on November 19, 2015.