Bill Bryson

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Bill Bryson

Author of "Notes from a Small Island" and "A Short History of Everything"

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, the son of William and Mary Bryson. He has an older brother, Michael, and a sister, Elisabeth.
Bryson was educated at Drake University but dropped out in 1972 after deciding to backpack around Europe for four months. He returned to Europe the following year with his high-school friend, Stephen Katz (real name Matt Angerer. Some of his experiences from this trip are re-lived as flashbacks in Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe, which documents a similar… 

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, the son of William and Mary Bryson. He has an older brother, Michael, and a sister, Elisabeth.
Bryson was educated at Drake University but dropped out in 1972 after deciding to backpack around Europe for four months. He returned to Europe the following year with his high-school friend, Stephen Katz (real name Matt Angerer. Some of his experiences from this trip are re-lived as flashbacks in Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe, which documents a similar journey Bryson made twenty years later.
Bryson first visited England in 1973 during a tour of Europe, and he returned a few years later to begin working in a psychiatric hospital in Virginia Water, Surrey. It was there that he met a nurse by the name of Cynthia, a native of England who would eventually become his wife. The couple returned to the USA so Bryson could complete his college degree, after which, in 1977, they settled in England, where they remained until 1995. Living in North Yorkshire and mainly working as a journalist, Bryson eventually became chief copy editor of the business section of The Times, and then deputy national news editor of the business section of The Independent. He left journalism in 1987, three years after the birth of his third child.
In 1995, Bryson returned to the United States to live in Hanover, New Hampshire for some years, the stories of which feature in his book I'm A Stranger Here Myself, alternatively titled Notes from a Big Country in Great Britain. In 2003, however, the Bryson’s and their four children returned to England, and now live in Norfolk. Also in 2003, in conjunction with World Book Day, voters in Great Britain chose Bryson's book Notes from a Small Island as that which best sums up British identity and the state of the nation. In the same year, he was appointed a Commissioner for English Heritage.
In 2004, Bryson won the prestigious Aventis Prize for best general-science book with A Short History of Nearly Everything. This concise and popular piece of literature explores not only the histories and current statuses of the sciences, but also reveals their humble and often humorous beginnings. One "top scientist" is alleged to have jokingly described the book as “annoyingly free of mistakes.”

Bryson has also written two popular works on the history of the English language — Mother Tongue and Made in America — and, more recently, an update of his guide to usage, Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words (published in its first edition as The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words in 1983). These books were popularly acclaimed and well-reviewed, though they received criticism from academics in the field, who claimed they contained factual errors, urban myths, and folk etymologies. Though Bryson has no formal linguistics qualifications, he is generally a well-regarded writer on the subject of languages.
In 2005, Bryson was appointed Chancellor of Durham University, succeeding the late Sir Peter Ustinov. He had praised Durham as "a perfect little city" in Notes from a Small Island. He has also been awarded honorary degrees by numerous universities.
In 2006, Bryson ran (as part of a celebrity relay team) in the Tresco marathon, the Scillian equivalent of the London marathon.
His most recent book project is a memoir about growing up in 1950s America: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.
In November 2006, Bryson interviewed Prime Minister Tony Blair on the state of science and education.
On December 13, 2006, Bryson was awarded an honorary OBE for his contribution to literature.
In January 2007, Bryson was the Schwartz Visiting Fellow of the Pomfret School in Connecticut.
 

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