Welcome to my website, a place where you can read about Michel de Montaigne, about forgers and revolutionaries, about mummy medicine, the electrical resurrection of the dead, primordial slime, writing courses, and more.
How to Live: a life of Montaigne won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography 2011 in the United States, and the Duff Cooper Prize for Non-Fiction 2010 in the U.K. It was also shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Marsh Biography Award. It is available in paperback in both U.S. and U.K. editions - click the links above right to buy these from Amazon.
The following translations are either available or coming soon (the links take you to bookstores or the publishers' sites):
Chinese (Complex) (Business Weekly Publications, Taiwan) - follow this link.
Dutch: Hoe te leven: een leven van Montaigne (Van Gennep).
French: Comment vivre? Une vie de Montaigne (Albin Michel).
German: Wie soll ich leben? oder das Leben Montaignes (C.H. Beck).
Italian: Montaigne: l'arte di vivere (Fazi Editore).
Portuguese (Brazil): Como viver: ou Uma biografia de Montaigne ... (Editora Objetiva).
Spanish: Como vivir: una vida con Montaigne (Ariel).
A Korean edition is published by KPI (Books on Wednesday).
Other translations are forthcoming, including Chinese (Simplified), Czech, Finnish, Slovenian and Turkish. Watch for more news!
Click here for a video interview with Corriere della Sera - in English with Italian subtitles.
And here for an audio interview with Philosophy Bites, the philosophy website.
And here for a long video discussion of Montaigne with the novelist Ray French, at the University of Hull, March 2012.
For information on translation and other rights, please contact my agent, Rogers, Coleridge & White
How To Live: A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer is an unorthodox biography of the sixteenth-century philosopher and essayist Michel de Montaigne, one of the most humane and likeable writers who ever lived. Read more!
My first two books explored the lives of extraordinary but little-known people from history. The Smart is a courtroom drama, revolving around the eighteenth-century courtesan and swindler Margaret Caroline Rudd. The English Dane is a biography of nineteenth-century explorer, revolutionary and spy Jorgen Jorgenson. Click on the links to find out more about these, and to try an excerpt from each work.
I came to writing via a long route which began with being born in Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, and almost immediately being taken travelling all over the world by my parents. They used to bundle me into a well-padded drawer and load me into the back seat of the car, then head off to Switzerland or Russia. Each evening, they took the drawer out and carried it up to the hotel bedroom, and the next morning they carried it down again. This has left me with an attitude to life that can best be described as cheerful resignation combined with a desire to think outside the box.
Eventually we emigrated to Australia, and much of my childhood was spent living a few minutes from the beach in Sydney. We then returned to Europe, backpacking through the Pacific islands and Southeast Asia. After fitful attendance at various schools, I studied philosophy at the University of Essex.
I became enthralled by the work of Martin Heidegger and started a PhD on him, but the spell wore off as quickly as it had been cast, and I dropped out to move to London and work in a tea-bag factory.
My job was to catch boxes of tea-bags spat at me by a machine, flip them on their sides, and push them in groups of six to the next person on the line. It was only for the first two hours that machine spat faster than I could flip, but they were the most memorable two hours of my life.
After this, I worked in bookshops for several years, did a postgraduate degree in Artificial Intelligence, and wrote fiction in my spare time, before landing a job at the Wellcome Library for the History of Medicine. There, I spent ten fascinating years as a cataloguer and curator of early printed books. It was while cataloguing that collection that I came across the tales that started me off as a non-fiction writer: odd medical cases, and a mysterious, angry pamphlet by a “Mrs Stewart”, which became the seed of my book The Smart.
Fortean Times/Alex Howe
You can also get to my old (pre-September 2009) blog directly by clicking here .