Alan became obsessed with writing and its instruments aged fifteen, following a teacher’s adverse comments on his scrawl, and started a collection, which he pompously called ‘The Museum of Writing’. After graduating in France in early/middle French and English, mostly forgotten, he went into banking, working in France and other francophone countries.
He joined the Institute of English Studies in 2003 and convened his first of two courses on the history of writing in 2006 that eventually evolved into The Book in the Ancient World. His collection grew to become, what has been described as, one of the most comprehensive and was obtained by the IES in 2010. His book, ‘Ruskin and the Hilliards’, another obsession, is presently with the publishers.