The Common Reader
The Common Reader is a weekly essay about literature and biography. This is a blog for what Samuel Johnson and Virginia Woolf called the common reader. Life is short and art is long. The Common Reader tries to help you make the most of your reading time.

                      "One of my favourite Substacks... a nerdy literature newsletter." 
                                                                                                            Helen Lewis

About me
I am a writer and tour guide. In 2022 I became an Emergent Ventures Fellow. I am writing a book about late bloomers. You can find my personal website here. You can read my articles for UnHerd, CapX, and The Critic. Please do email me. I always reply.

What to expect from The Common Reader

Books without knowledge of life are useless; 
                              for what should books teach but the art of living?” 
                                                                                                 Samuel Johnson

Underrated Fiction
Fiction reviews tend to be about overlooked or underrated novels, like The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins, The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West, or A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson.

The biographical essays are usually about opsimaths: people who develop slowly, succeed late in life, and never stop learning. Try The Case for Opsimaths or read about the Fitzgerald Rule.

You can never be wise until you learn to love reading.” 
                                                                                                 Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson is my hero. I’ve written about him as a late bloomer, about his wisdom, and about the mystery of where he was in 1745.

Everything is interesting
They don’t come up very often, but sometimes I write about whatever I want to know that I can’t get somewhere else. Try Whose advice should you take? Or How much did Churchill really drink?


Henry Oliver
Writer in London. "I rejoice to concur with the common reader."