July 18, 2016, by Kathryn Steenson

Colin Wilson Conference

On Friday 1 July, 60 researchers, fans and family members of the late Colin Wilson travelled to KMC to attend the 1st International Colin Wilson Conference.

It was a truly an international affair, as delegates had come from as far afield as America, Australia and even West Bridgford.

Photo of Simon Brighton speaking to the audience

Simon Brighton discussing ‘The Colin Wilson Audio Project’. Courtesy of Rowan Wilson

The extensive archive of the Leicester-born novelist and philosopher, who died in 2013, is in the process of being catalogued by Manuscripts & Special Collections. Printed copies of Wilson’s works are available in the library catalogue, and a partial catalogue of the manuscript material was made live in time for the conference. Delegates were also able to see a display of some of the archive and printed materials first-hand, including signed first editions and handwritten drafts.

Wilson himself had been to KMC in its previous life as the Carlton TV studios, to film a programme about the paranormal, and thus it was doubly appropriate that the first international conference in his name should have been held here.

Documents and drafts of books from the Colin Wilson Archive and Printed Collection displayed at the Conference

Original material from the Colin Wilson Archive and Printed Collection.

The day was packed full and the breadth of the papers presented showed Wilson’s range of interests: from Jack the Ripper to science fiction; from existentialism to the paranormal, the eight speakers managed to represent his 50-year writing career admirably. Memorable moments included listening to excerpts from Wilson’s extensive audio diaries and how one melted cassette was salvaged after being damaged by lightening, and an appearance by the toilet chain that potentially belonged to Jack the Ripper. Most of the talks were recorded so hopefully those unable to attend in person will not miss out.

The delegates were universal in their praise for the conference, and thanks go to Colin Stanley for organising it and to the Wilson family for their help and support. Hopefully this will become a regular event, although the next one will need a bigger venue!

George C. Poulos speaking at the conference, pointing to the screen in front of the audience

George C. Poulos speaking on ‘Colin Wilson’s transcendental theory of evolution.’ Courtesy of Rowan Wilson


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