Stuart: A Life Backwards was Alexander Masters’s first book. The biography of Stuart Shorter, a ‘thief, hostage taker, psycho and sociopath street raconteur’ whom Master befriended while working for a homeless charity, it was funny, moving and pleasingly unworthy. It won the Guardian First Book Award in 2005 and the Hawthornden Prize in 2006. He is now working on a biography of his former landlord, mathematician Simon Norton, and is trying to complete the script for a television adaptation of Stuart, to appear (hopefully) this autumn.
I presumed, from reading Stuart, that Masters was English; in fact he’s an American who has lived mostly in England. His accent is trans-Atlantic. He sits on a chaise longue – ‘a present for myself when Stuart came out’ – on the first floor of a house he is looking