Bill Bryson is a best-selling author whose books have sold more than 15 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages.
Bill Bryson is a best-selling author whose books have sold more than 15 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. His science book A Short History of Nearly Everything won the 2004 Aventis Prize of the Royal Society and the Descartes Prize, the European Union's highest literary award. His other books include A Walk in the Woods, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and Notes from A Small Island. His latest book, The Road to Little Dribbling, examines his longstanding affection for Great Britain.
In the fall of 2015, A Walk in the Woods was released as a movie starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.
Bryson was Chancellor of the University of Durham, England's third oldest university, from 2005-11, and for four years was on the board of directors of English Heritage, the British government body responsible for England's historic environment. From 2006 to 2012 he was president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, one of Britain's oldest conservation organizations.
In 2006 he was awarded an honorary OBE (Order of the British Empire) by the British government, and in 2014 was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Society. In 2007, the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts, gave him its annual Bradford Washburn Award, its highest award, for contributions to the popularization of science, and in 2009 he was made an honorary fellow of the Kavli Institute of Particle Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is an honorary fellow of the British Science Association and of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and was editor of the Royal Society's 350th anniversary book, Seeing Further. In 2012, he received the Kenneth B. Myer Award from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience in Melbourne, Australia.
He has honorary degrees from Drake University and Oberlin College in America and from twelve British universities.
Bill Bryson is the author of a charitable book, African Diary, which has raised over $500,000 for CARE International, the overseas aid organisation. He is a longtime supporter of Conservation International, which works to save endangered species and habitats throughout the world, and has given keynote speeches at its conferences in New York and Los Angeles.
In Britain he is a patron of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Friends of Durham Cathedral. He has also been closely associated with the Prince's Regeneration Trust, the Woodland Trust, St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, SAVE Britain's Heritage, and the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. He is currently patron of the Love Hearts Appeal at Great Ormond Street, which aims to raise funds for new facilities for transplant patients, and to increase awareness of the need for organ donations.
Bill Bryson was born in 1951 in Des Moines, Iowa, and was raised and educated there (BA, Drake University, 1977), but has spent most of his adult life in England. Before becoming a fulltime freelance writer in 1987, he worked as a journalist, principally on The Times.
In addition to his books, he has written extensively for newspapers and magazines throughout the English-speaking world, including National Geographic, the New Yorker, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Sydney Morning Herald.
He lives in Hampshire, England, with his English wife, Cynthia. He has four grown children and nine grandchildren. His principal interests outside work and family are walking in the English countryside and gardening.
In 2014, Donald Quicke, formerly of Imperial College London, and colleagues named a new species of Australian insect, Teresirogas billbrysoni, after him.
Honorary fellow of the Royal Society
Honorary fellow of the British Science Association
Honorary fellow the Royal Society of Chemistry
Honorary fellow of the Kavli Institute of Particle Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Honorary degrees (15): Universities of Iowa, Durham, Leeds, Hull, Bournemouth, Royal Holloway, St Andrews, King's College London, Leicester, Liverpool John Moores, Westminster, Winchester, Drake University, Kenyon College, and the Open University.
Commissioner, English Heritage, 2003-2007
Chancellor, Durham University, 2005-2011
President, Campaign to Protect Rural England, 2006-2012
Royal Society 350th Anniversary Campaign Committee
Prizes and awards
James Joyce prize from University College, Dublin.
Bradford Washburn Award for science communication, Museum of Science, Boston, 2007.
College Historical Society Award for contribution to the arts, Trinity College, Dublin
British Book Awards, Author of the Year, 1996
New England book award, US, 1999.
Aventis Prize for science book of the year, 2004
Descartes Prize from European Union for science writing, 2004
President's Award, Royal Soicety of Chemistry, 2006
Freedom of the City of Durham, 2010
Irish Book Awards International Author of Year, 2015
Misc. travel writing awards.
Speeches and lectures on communicating science
Kenneth B. Myer Lecture, Florey Neurosciences Institute, University of Melbourne, 2012.
Royal Society of Chemistry annual conference, Birmingham, 2011.
Royal Society/Gresham College 350th anniversary lecture at the Guildhall in London, 2010.
Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Oslo, annual banquet on behalf of Royal Society, 2009.
University of Oslo public lecture, 2009.
Hay Literary Festival, presentation with Lord Rees and Marcus de Sautoy for 350th anniversary, 2010.
Cheltenham Science Festival, lecture and media interviews to promote Seeing Further, 2010.
Durham University, chair of panel from Royal Society to promote Seeing Further, 2010
British Science Association annual festivals, Guildford 2009 and Aberdeen 2012
Conservation International, keynote speeches to annual conferences, New York and Los Angeles 2004 and 2006
Institute of Medical Educators, keynote speech, annual conference, London, 2009.
British Orthopaedic Association, keynote speech, annual conference, Glasgow, 2010.
Ogden Trust, Science Forum, lecture on importance of science to society, Cambridge, 2008
Misc. school visits and presentations
Misc. media interviews on publication of Seeing Further
Oxford Transplant Foundation
Cystic Fibrosis Trust
Friends of Durham Cathedral
Friends of the Botanic Gardens, Durham
Friends of the Oriental Museum, Durham
Ruth First Educational Trust, University of Durham
Durham University Charities Committee
St. Cuthbert's Hospice, Durham
St Martin-in-the-Fields Fundraising Campaign, London
Editor, Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society, 2010.
Chair of Aventis Prize science book jury at Royal Society, 2005
Chair of Wellcome Trust book prize, 2015
Chair of Insight Investment Royal Society science book prize, 2016