Outsider is the life of a child, boy, adolescent, student and young man in London between the Great Depression of the 30s and the sudden prosperity and social changes of the 60s, affected by the moral attitudes of the day, by the Blitz, post-war austerity and the new freedoms of the later 50s that were resisted with such obstinacy by the old regime. It is about education in the almost forgotten sense of the pursuit of learning for its own sake. It is about the imposed experiences of school and National Service and the chosen experience of being a student at the Courtauld Institute under Johannes Wilde and Anthony Blunt. It is about sex, pre-pubertal, in adolescence and in early adulthood, and the price to be paid for it. It is about art and the art market in the turbulent years of its change from the pursuit of well-connected gentleman to the professional occupation of experts.
Addicted to art, Brian Sewell has been the art critic of the London Evening Standard since 1984 – the sad end of a once promising career, the Orwell, Hawthornden and other prizes scant consolation to a man who once enjoyed life as a scholar gypsy.