Colin Henry Wilson (26 June 1931 – 5 December 2013) was a prolific English writer who first came to prominence as a philosopher and novelist. He also wrote widely on true crime, mysticism and the paranormal. Wilson called his philosophy "new existentialism" or "phenomenological existentialism", and maintained his life work "that of a philosopher, and (his) purpose to create a new and optimistic existentialism.”
Gollancz published the then 24-year-old Wilson's The Outsider in 1956. The work examines the role of the social "outsider" in seminal works by various key literary and cultural figures – such as Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William James, T. E. Lawrence – and discusses Wilson's perception of social alienation in their work. The book became a best-seller and helped popularise existentialism in Britain.
Wilson became associated with the "Angry Young Men" of British literature. He contributed to Declaration, an anthology of manifestos by writers associated with the movement, and was also anthologised in a popular paperback sampler, Protest: The Beat Generation and the Angry Young Men. Some viewed Wilson and his friends Bill Hopkins and Stuart Holroyd as a sub-group of the "Angries", more concerned with "religious values" than with liberal or socialist politics. Critics on the left swiftly labeled them as fascist; commentator Kenneth Allsop called them "the law givers".
After the initial success of Wilson's first work, critics universally panned Religion and the Rebel (1957). Time magazine published a review, headlined "Scrambled Egghead", that pilloried the book. By the late 1960s Wilson had become increasingly interested in metaphysical and occult themes. In 1971, he published The Occult: A History, featuring interpretations on Aleister Crowley, George Gurdjieff, Helena Blavatsky, Kabbalah, primitive magic, Franz Mesmer, Grigori Rasputin, Daniel Dunglas Home, and Paracelsus (among others). He also wrote a markedly unsympathetic biography of Crowley, Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast, and has written biographies on other spiritual and psychological visionaries, including Gurdjieff, Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Rudolf Steiner, and P. D. Ouspensky.
Originally, Wilson focused on the cultivation of what he called "Faculty X", which he saw as leading to an increased sense of meaning, and on abilities such as telepathy and the awareness of other energies. In his later work he suggests the possibility of life after death and the existence of spirits, which he personally analyzes as an active member of the Ghost Club.