David Vincent is Professor Emeritus and former Pro Vice Chancellor at The Open University.
Superb ... a remarkably versatile study. Terry Eagleton, The Guardian [A] beautifully written, nuanced and now topical history. The Spectator Totally absorbing. Sydney Morning Herald [B]ursts with fascinating information and chewy ideas. The Telegraph [An] elegantly written and acute history ... It is characteristic of Vincent's insight that he detects mirrors everywhere. Yorkshire Times In this well-judged history of a currently pressing preoccupation ... Vincent performs a useful public service: he recognises the uniqueness of our contemporary problems, but gives them the calming and edifying perspective of context. Times Higher Education Are we living in a lonely age and, if so, when did it begin? In this riveting history, David Vincent tackles this timely question by bringing to light everyday experiences of solitude and loneliness from the late eighteenth century to the present. Here we meet solitary walkers, spiritual recluses, sailors on long solo voyages, but also men and women locked up in asylums or prisons where unremitting isolation broke minds and spirits. Solitude could be nourishing but it could also madden or even kill. Vincent gives us the stories in rich detail, in a pathbreaking book that will fascinate anyone interested in solitariness, past or present. Barbara Taylor, Queen Mary University of London This is a superb book. David Vincent has mobilized texts that he has mastered over fifty years of scholarship and supplemented these - poetry, novels, memoirs, and autobiography - with a dazzling range of sources on everything from stamp-collecting to dog-walking to prison reform. He manages the intractable distinction between solitude and loneliness over a large domain. This will become the standard work on a topic of both academic and general interest. Thomas Laqueur, University of California at Berkeley This is a deeply researched book that sheds light on many aspects of modern history, from leisure to penology. While exploring rich historical cases, the book also provides an explicit backdrop for contemporary concerns about loneliness but also about modern barriers to achieving solitude. A real gem. Peter Stearns, George Mason University Original, bang up-to-date, and impressive in its scholarship. This is a fine piece of work from an experienced historian. Colin Heywood, University of Nottingham Vincent's new book, [....] examines how our attitudes to being alone - physically and mentally - have changed over time. The breadth of his study is impressive. Vincent is refreshingly sceptical about the UK's supposed 'loneliness epidemic'. David Robson, The Independent