Adrift in Soho was Colin Wilson’s second published novel. It appeared on September 4th, 1961 in the trademark yellow Victor Gollancz dust-jacket and was published six weeks later by Houghton Mifflin in the US. Released one year after Ritual in the Dark, it is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story, set in the 1950s, about a young man from the provinces searching for freedom in London. In his autobiography Dreaming to Some Purpose (2004) Wilson explained that the novel had, in fact, started out as a collaboration between himself and an old Soho friend called Charles Belchier, otherwise known as Charles Russell, a Bohemian actor who appeared uncredited as the bandleader on the Titanic in the film ‘A Night to Remember’ (1958).

Adift in Soho

Essentially a philosopher, he was best known for his first book The Outsider,  a philosophical study of alienation in modern literature, the first of a series of seven books known as ‘The Outsider Cycle’, establishing what he called his ‘new existentialism’; but in a working life as a professional author, spanning over 55 years, he produced a startling body of work: 181 books; 600 essays and articles for a variety of magazines and newspapers; 162 Introductions to other authors’ works; and over 400 book reviews. He would often write a novel and a non-fiction work concurrently, this being his way of putting his philosophical ideas into action—very much a Continental rather than an English tradition—which goes some way to explaining why he has never been given his due credit as a novelist in his country of birth. He died on December 5th, 2013 and his body was interred in the churchyard of St Goran, near his home in Cornwall.  Colin Stanley

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