Curious Facts About Books: Five

  1. William Makepeace Thackeray was so moved by his reading of Jane Eyre that he broke down in tears in front of his butler.


    Virginia and Vanessa Stephen playing cricket

  2. Charles Dickens gave himself many nicknames.  They included ‘The Sparkler of Albion’, ‘Revolver’, and ‘The Inimitable’.
  3. Virginia Woolf was a keen cricketer, and her family called her ‘the demon bowler’.
  4. A school report of Roald Dahl’s said,  ‘I have never met anybody who so persistently writes words meaning the exact opposite of what is intended.’
  5. In 1862, novelist Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who coined the phrase ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, was offered the throne of Greece.
  6. Due to his failing eyesight, James Joyce wrote much of Finnegan’s Wake with a crayon on pieces of cardboard.

Curious Facts About Books: Four

  1. Nabokov wrote some of his novels (including Lolita) on index cards, whilst working at Harvard University as a butterfly curator.


  2. Pride and Prejudice was originally entitled First Impressions.
  3. Neil Gaiman was originally a journalist.  He gave up the profession due to his anger at the fact that people were able to make up stories and get away with it.
  4. Stella Gibbons wrote much of Cold Comfort Farm whilst on the London Underground.
  5. Agatha Christie disliked her creation Hercule Poirot; she called him ‘a detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep’.
  6. Ernest Hemingway often wrote standing up.

Curious Facts About Books: Three

  1. The author of Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome, married the secretary of Leon Trotsky.
  2. iceland_books_wide-35ea1923e9f1ad7cc8f766ebf6d10ea7a7361aef-s900-c85

    Book shopping in Iceland

    In the 16th century, the bestselling book was not the Bible, but Erasmus’ handbook on good manners for children.

  3. People in Iceland read more books per capita than in any other country.
  4. The biggest book in the world is 1.75 metres tall.
  5. Ten popular idioms about books are as follows: ‘a closed book’, ‘an open book’, ‘read someone like a book’, ‘the oldest trick in the book’, ‘in someone’s good books’, ‘by the book’, ‘bring someone to book’, ‘take a leaf out of someone’s book’, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and ‘cook the books’.
  6. Jonathan Swift invented the name Vanessa.

Curious Facts About Books: Two

  1. The word ‘bog handler’ is the Danish word for bookseller.
  2. Whilst at high school, keen actor J.D. Salinger signed a yearbook with the names of all of the roles which he had performed.


  3. ‘Bibliosmia’ is the enjoyment of the smell of old books.
  4. Around £2.2 billion is spent in the United Kingdom on books every year; a fifth of this is on children’s books.
  5. The longest sentence ever printed is in Les Miserables; it is 823 words long.
  6. Evelyn Waugh’s first wife was also named Evelyn.  They went by ‘He-Evelyn’ and ‘She-Evelyn’ respectively.

Curious Facts About Books: One

I thought I would try a blog post which is a little different today.  I have collected book facts from all over the Internet, and will present them to you over the course of a week.

  1. Hugh Lofting, the author of Dr Doolittle, believed that books should have a ‘senile’ category to counteract the ‘juvenile’ section.


    Joe Orton

  2. Playwright Joe Orton went to prison in 1962 for defacing library books with a picture of a man wearing trunks.
  3. ‘A book scorpion’ is a person who is hostile to books or learning.
  4. Joan Didion often slept in the room with the book she was working on, to feel closer to it.
  5. The smallest book in the Welsh National Library is entitled Old King Cole.  It measures 1x1mm, and the pages can only be turned with a needle.
  6. The Japanese work ‘tsundoku’ means buying many books, and then never getting around to reading them – something which I feel we are all guilty of!