Sarah Bakewell

Sarah Bakewell was a bookseller and a curator of early printed books at the Wellcome Library before publishing her highly acclaimed biographies The Smart, The English Dane, and the best-selling How to Live: A Life of Montaigne, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography. In addition to writing, she now teaches in the Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at Kellogg College, University of Oxford. She lives in London. Her latest is At the Existential Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails (2016).

"On the simplest level, Montaigne has the same appeal as reality TV shows.  We are curious apes, so we find the nitty-gritty of other people’s lives irresistible.  But he also touches deeper sources of empathy.  He talks about feelings that are hard to express or even to notice: about the experience of being lazy, or brave, or indecisive; about lying, about living up to one’s responsibilities, about obsessive fears of death or illness, and the way they seem to recede as one’s level of actual misfortune rises.  He often describes the sheer pleasure of being alive — a sensation he has learned to enhance simply by paying close attention to it."

– Sarah Bakewell


Applied Existentialism

The good-hearted Jean-Paul Sartre, the elegant Simone de Beauvoir, and the debonair Raymond Aron sat in a bar on Paris’s rue du Montparnasse....

Philosophy as an Art of Living

A QUIET REVOLUTION may have taken place over the last three decades in our understanding of the history of Western philosophy. ...

Life of the Party

Montaigne invented the genre of the essay, one suspects, because he himself was an essay...

Life of the Party