English lecturer's new book 'Britain by the book'

English lecturer’s latest work is a literary tour full of surprises

Dr Oliver Tearle, founder of the popular Interesting Literature blog, has scoured the country to write Britain by the Book: A Curious Tour of Our Literary Landscape, a collection of surprising and little-known stories behind classic works of literature.

Dr Tearle said: “One of the great things about writing Britain by the Book, which sprang from the same instinct which drives Interesting Literature – curiosity about the obscure and forgotten, as well as an interest in looking more closely at the stories we take for granted about classic literary works – is the sheer number of times I came across things I didn’t know before I began researching it.

“It was also great fun to delve deeper into some of the things I’d previously unearthed, and to find even more surprising facts within those facts, like a sort of Russian doll of literary trivia.”

Britain by the Book follows The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History, and invites the reader on a similar literary journey, this time through the literary history of Britain.   

The many truths explored in Britain by the Book include:

  • The futuristic novel set in 2000 (but written in 1892) written by a Scottish golfer, which accurately predicted television, digital watches, and British decimal currency;
  • How one man buying an old fire station in 1962, and naming his horse as Prime Minister in 1977, helped to transform Hay-on-Wye into the second-hand bookshop capital of the world.

For more highlights visit the Interesting Literature blog and its accompanying Twitter account.

Britain by the Book: A Curious Tour of Our Literary Landscape is out now in hardcover, published by John Murray.

Image by Sam Read