Stuart Hamilton is British, 31 years old and from the beautiful seaside town of Herne Bay in the South-East of England. He is a professional librarian who has worked for the International Federation of Library Associations as a researcher into censorship for the past four years. He has also been, at various times, a shop assistant in various areas of expertise (furniture, children’s toys, sportswear, men’s underwear), an in-store tannoy announcer for a large department store, a television salesman and a paperboy. Once he sold ice cream in an Italian ice cream parlour and saw a French kid who looked exactly like himself when he was aged 12. He has wondered ever since if this was a sign of some kind. He still is a some-time writer and DJ.
Stuart has lived in a number of places in the UK including Manchester and Brighton. Since 2001 he has been living in Copenhagen in Denmark where he completed a PhD in Library and Information Science.
During this time he has been able to travel to many countries around the world as part of his research and has been lucky enough to meet many exciting people, some of whom he has kept in touch with. When he tells these people that he intends to spend the best part of two years walking across the US, some of them react in unexpected ways.
Stuart has always been keen on adventure. He spent a number of summers hitch-hiking around France in the mid-1990s, hired a barn on top of a hill in Yorkshire for three weeks in 1996 for all his friends – just to see what would happen – and explored his own personal Apocalypse Now during a incident-filled barge trip around Birmingham’s canals in 1997. He has interviewed political dissidents in Cuba and Tunisia and avoided secret police by walking fast and ducking into quiet alleys. Between 1999 and 2001 he and a group of friends attempted to recreate the 12 labours of Hercules (they completed one task). His most major feat of stupidity so far, however, was a solo walk of over 600 km across France, Switzerland and Italy in 2001. This walk commemorated the anniversary of poet, author and politician Hillare Belloc who walked to Rome 100 years earlier.
By undertaking a walk across the US, Stuart hopes to indulge himself in the culture and people of a country that has always fascinated him. In fact, in primary school Stuart used to tell other pupils that he was American, because he thought this made him cooler. American music, books and cinema have always been part of Stuart’s life, and American politics has been a major area of study for Stuart during the period of his PhD. The direction of America, its politicians and its people is of so much consequence for the rest of us in this world that Stuart thought it was high time that someone went over there and saw what was going on.