`I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to'
And, as soon as Bill Bryson was old enough, he left. Des Moines couldn't hold him, but it did lure him back. After ten years in England, he returned to the land of his youth, and drove almost 14,000 miles in search of a mythical small town called Amalgam, the kind of trim and sunny place where the films of his youth were set. Instead, his search led him to Anywhere, USA; a lookalike strip of gas stations, motels and hamburger outlets populated by lookalike people with a penchant for synthetic fibres. He discovered a continent that was doubly lost; lost to itself because blighted by greed, pollution, mobile homes and television; lost to him because he had become a stranger in his own land.
Bryson's acclaimed first success, The Lost Continent is a classic of travel literature - hilariously, stomach-achingly, funny, yet tinged with heartache - and the book that first staked Bill Bryson's claim as the most beloved writer of his generation.
Bill Bryson's bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent and Notes from a Small Island, which in a national poll was voted the book that best represents Britain. Another travel book, A Walk in the Woods, has become a major film starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. His new number one Sunday Times bestseller is The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island. His acclaimed book on the history of science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Royal Society's Aventis Prize as well as the Descartes Prize, the European Union's highest literary award. He has written books on language, on Shakespeare, on history, and on his own childhood in the hilarious memoir The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. His last critically lauded bestsellers were At Home: a Short History of Private Life, and One Summer: America 1927 Bill Bryson was born in the American Midwest, and now lives in the UK. A former Chancellor of Durham University, he was President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England for five years, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society.