Welcome to my website, which is a guide to my professional life as a writer and philosopher. My CV provides detailed information concerning my career.
This year I published two books, The Disappeared and later in the autumn, Fools Frauds and Firebrands. The Disappeared, published by Bloomsbury, has received wonderful reviews and you can read them in the reviews section. One I particularly like is from Douglas Murray at The Spectator. ‘It's a gripping, disturbing narrative dealing with abduction and abuse but also love, escape and a type of redemption’. It is about England, now.
Fools Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left was released on October 8th, coinciding with (though not necessarily causing) the rise of Jeremy Corbyn to become leader of the Labour party. I was consequently promoted to the post of expert on the Corbyn question, being invited to make contributions to The Times, The Observer and The Spectator. FFF is an update of Thinkers of the New Left published, to widespread outrage, in 1986. It includes new chapters covering the Parisian nonsense machine – Lacan, Deleuze and Baiou – and some timely thoughts about the historians and social thinkers who led British intellectuals up the garden path during the last decades, including Eric Hobsbawm and Ralph Miliband. All in all a shocking performance, but so far comparatively mildly reviewed.
Notes from Underground, my novel from last year 2014, has received the bronze award in the Suspense/Thriller category in this year’s IPPY awards. I was also delighted to hear that it has been nominated for the IMPAC awards. Although still on the long list of 160, the books are nominated on a basis of ‘high literary merit’. The shortlist will be announced in April of next year (2016). It has also been translated into Czech and was launched in Prague, during the Forum 2000 conference in September.
Recent broadcasts have occurred on the BBC's Point of View programme, covering freedom of speech, offensive jokes, and the tyranny of pop music. Podcasts are available on the BBC website, or alternatively you can read them. I have received a lot of feedback from these programmes, both positive and negative.
There follows a brief résumé of my career:
I graduated from Cambridge University in 1965, spent two years abroad and then pursued an academic career in philosophy, first in Cambridge, and then in London, until 1990, when I took a year's leave of absence to work for an educational charity in Czechoslovakia. (This charity grew from the 'underground university' which colleagues and I had established in the last decade of communism. My contacts with the countries of the old Eastern Bloc remain strong. (See this lecture delivered in Hungary in 2013:) I then taught part-time at Boston University Massachusetts until the end of 1994, while building up a public affairs consultancy in Eastern Europe. Since then I have been a free-lance writer and consultant, taking on short-term contracts when necessary. I am currently senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and visiting professor in the philosophy department at Oxford University. Since 1996 I have been married to Sophie, and we have two children, Sam, born in 1998 and Lucy, born in 2000.
My principal activity remains what it has been for the last 30 years, which is writing, and my books and articles cover a broad range of topics in several genres (Read my novella A Dove Descending here). My serious academic research has been in the area of aesthetics, with two books – The Aesthetics of Architecture and The Aesthetics of Music – that I would like to think have made a small contribution to their respective fields. In addition I have written essays, criticism, autobiography, invocations of country life, novels and poems (I discuss my intellectual identity here). You will also find on this site some traces of my hobby as an amateur composer (My opera 'Violet' is available here).
I am a senior fellow at the Future Symphony Institute - a think tank dedicated entirely to classical music. I share this passion with founder Andrew Balio and his wife Laura Jean and together we challenge the problems facing classical music and orchestras in this modern day. Our mission is to formulate a strategy for the renaissance of live classical music and to translate that strategy into programs made freely available to everyone they may benefit. You can see my articles here.
My most recent articles include - Why MPs have a duty to resist online petitions – which was published in The Spectator. Most of my articles can be found through the articles tab, this also includes videos and podcasts of recent speech’s and interviews. You can also keep up to date with my schedule of events on the appearances page. This gives a few details of the up and coming events that I will be attending and contributing to. If you are that way inclined, you can also follow me on Twitter.
Why Beauty Matters, a BBC 2 production broadcast in November 2009, on the importance of beauty in the arts and in our lives, remains among the most popular of my productions and we are hoping to make it available for everyone to view. The majority of my essays and other work can be found on the website, but if there is something you can’t see please do get in touch. My most recent interview was that with Tim Adams, and you can see that here.
In association with Buckingham University, I am leading an MA in Philosophy. It is a one year research based course, with some exceptional guest seminar speakers. Each lecture is given in London, with the opportunity to discuss and engage over supper before a dissertation, on an approved philosophical topic, must be submitted. If you are interested and would like to apply for next year, please send enquires to Claire Prendergast 01280 820204 or email