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My next book explores the role of retreat in creative and intellectual lives. Why do writers, artists and thinkers withdraw from the world? Focusing on the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Welsh painter and poet David Jones, and the French mystical writer Simone Weil, it asks what is gained and what is lost by stepping back from this life.


Weaving together biography, history, travel and literary criticism, The World Within argues for the value of solitude, and explains how withdrawing from the world can help us endure times of crisis.


The writing of this book has been supported by a Genesis Foundation Emerging Writer award (2021), a SOA Work in Progress award (2021), and an Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust award (2023). I was also a Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library (2022), along with residencies at Hawthornden Castle (2022) and Tyrone Guthrie (2024).

The book will be published in 2025 by Simon & Schuster. I discuss the subject in more detail during this podcast with George Prochnik.

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