Bill Bryson’s first travel book in 15 years due this autumn

Today in oh holy hell I shall soon be dead: 2015 marks 15 years – 15 years – since Bill Bryson last published a book of travel writing, that particular book being 2000’s jaunt around Australia, Down Under. In the time since, he has published two volumes of Bryson’s Dictionary (one of Troublesome Words, the other for Writers and Editors), two Short Histories of Nearly Everything, a memoir, a biography of Shakespeare, and three books of history about, variously, icons of England, domestic life and America in the summer of 1927, with his only travel writing a short diary of a trip to Kenya published in aid of CARE International.

So it’s not like he’s been slacking in the interim, but this autumn sees not only his return to the genre that made him a bestseller, but a return to the subject of arguably his most popular book: Britain, around which Bryson previously travelled in 1995’s Notes From a Small Island, will once again be chronicled in all its gentle eccentricity in The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island, due for publication later this year by Doubleday (and yes, that also means it’s been 20 years since Notes From a Small Island first entered the zeitgeist, and we shall all know the sweet embrace of the crypt unfathomably soon).

For those in need of a reminder as to how big a deal this news is (and, to be fair, the 15 year gap between travel books means there is conceivably an entire generation of readers who have never been cognisant of Bryson at peak popularity), Notes From a Small Island alone has sold 942,869 copies, according to Neilsen BookScan – over 10% of the 8,648,774 Bryson has sold throughout his career (and he has written significantly more than ten books). Don’t be surprised if this year’s Christmas number one is already sewn up.

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