<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-K3L4M3" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">


A real-life Tristram Shandy – found in a skip

Alexander Masters transforms some anonymous diaries found discarded on a skip into a volume worthy of Laurence Sterne

30 April 2016

9:00 AM

30 April 2016

9:00 AM

A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip Alexander Masters

Fourth Estate, pp.234, £12.99, ISBN: 9780008130770

Most modern biographers feed off celebrity like vampires let loose in a blood bank. That is why their books sell: they give readers the illusion of intimacy with people they will never know. Alexander Masters is different. He specialises in what one might call ‘marginal biography’, devoting hundreds of pages to individuals who live on the frayed edges of society, and often seem to be on the edge in other ways besides.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Get 10 issues
for $10

Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for the next 10 magazine issues, plus full online access, for just $10.

  • Delivery of the weekly magazine
  • Unlimited access to spectator.com.au and app
  • Spectator podcasts and newsletters
  • Full access to spectator.co.uk

Unlock this article


Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £10.99. Tel: 08430 600033. Robert Douglas-Fairhurst is a professor at Magdalen College, Oxford; his books include The Story of Alice and Becoming Dickens.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first month for free, then just $2 a week for the remainder of your first year.


Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator Australia readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in