William McGuire “Bill” Bryson, OBE, is an American writer. His work is of the best-selling category and comprises humorous books on travel; as well as books on the English language and on science
Though he was born in the USA, he spent most of his adult life in the UK. He did return to the USA for a short while, but came back to England as the Chancellor of Durham University.
In 1995 Bryson wrote ‘Notes From A Small Island’. The book was an exploration of Britain. He also prepared a TV serial on the book and that is how he became well-known and recognized in the United Kingdom.
Bill Bryson first came to Europe in 1972. He took a sabbatical from college and backpacked around Europe for four months. The following year, he brought with him his friend Stephen Katz. Memorable moments of the trip show up in Bryson’s writings.
Inevitably, his travels brought Bryson to England. Here he found work in a psychiatric facility and stayed on. At the facility he met and fell in love with a nurse, Cynthia. The two were married and went to live in the United States so that Bryson could complete his education. Traveling back with Cynthia to the United Kingdom, he found work as a journalist and settled into it. For many years he remained with newspapers. Finally, much emboldened and confident, he gave up newspaper work and plunged into full-time writing as a professional writer. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.
Though Bill Bryson is a travel writer of repute, it is surprising to see that he has not found it in him to write about the exotic lands that most find adventure in. India and Japan do not seem to interest him. He seems more interested in the rather more conventional English speaking countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Brazil, China and South Africa do not seem to fascinate him because he finds much to explore in the known world of the first world countries. His work is more of the nature of describing trivia and banalities. He seems to shy away from the social critiques of the lands he visits.
Another of Bryson’s popularly best-selling works is; A Short History of Nearly Everything published in 2003. The book answers a number of questions of a scientific nature for an unscientific audience. In other words, he has managed to explain puzzling scientific phenomena to the general audience in a way that makes sense to them. The book is rather entertaining but it also has a lot of depth. It is clear and amusing, thus entertaining and educating the reader at the same time. Educating by entertaining is a notion for the new generation, because not for them the serious perusal of books when digital technology is so much more entertaining.
Bryson’s writing is very readable. The reader feels no need to struggle with the complexity of the daunting written word. Bryson expertly covers a vast amount of information in short pieces that keep the reader engrossed and provide him with just the right amount of information that will keep him interested. The book is like a well-cooked meal. The diner eats his fill, is satisfied and doesn’t care to overindulge making himself sick with gluttony.
Critics often envy Bryson and his style. He makes it seem so easy to write. It’s as though he were going about his routine just scribbling down some ideas as they occur to him, and lo; he has a book. His style is easy and it carries the reader along in a state of flow, to the final end. Though his work ‘carries a moral bent’, it is not overpoweringly moralizing. It has a subtlety that is appealing and endearing. Bryson’s latest works take readers ‘Down Under’ to Australia. Engaging with mild-mannered, witty Bryson through his work is an experience to enjoy.