Simon Garfield
AUTHOR

Simon Garfield

British writer Simon Garfield is the author or editor of more than 20 books of non-fiction, including the international bestsellers Just My Type, On The Map and Mauve. His latest book is All The Knowledge In The World: The Extraordinary History Of The Encyclopaedia. His other titles cover an appealingly diverse and unpredictable array of subjects, ranging from the award-winning history of Aids in Britain, The End of Innocence, to the hilarious oral histories of British Wrestling and Radio 1. His celebration of letter writing, To The Letter, was one of the inspirations for the theatre show Letters Live with Benedict Cumberbatch, and spawned the BBC play My Dear Bessie with Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey. His other labour of love is A Notable Woman, the edited lifetime journals of the remarkable Jean Lucey Pratt, whom readers first met (when she was named Maggie Joy Blunt) in Garfield's three popular collections of diaries from the Mass Observation Archive. Jean began her journal in 1925 when she was 15, and maintained it until a few weeks before her death in 1986. Throughout she wrote lyrically, comically and honestly about her world and her friends (and particularly well about the disappointments of men). She trained as a journalist and an architect, and ran a bookshop In Burnham Beeches for 20 years. Jean wrote well over a million words, and A Notable Woman, which contains about a quarter of her output, fulfils her long-standing dream that her writing would one day make it into print. Much of Garfield's work reflects a desire to reinterpret human history in an unusual and addictively readable way, and to look askance at topics we may often take for granted. To this end, Timekeepers examines the history of our ever-accelerating world, and In Miniature looks at our desire to bring that world down to size so that we may better understand it. His latest book is a history of a remarkable thing, the attempt to gather all the knowledge in the world in one place. The story begins in France in the 18th century, soon switches to Edinburgh (The Britannica), and, inevitably, ends up online with Wikipedia. The chapters cover the dedicated and obsessive men and women who edited and wrote these most ambitious of publishing enterprises, the sometimes brilliant but often inaccurate and outmoded articles they produced, and the underhand practices of the encyclopaedia salesman. It explains how Wikipedia is edited today, and examines how such diverse bedfellows as Arthur Conan Doyle, HG Wells, Monty Python and Taylor Swift have celebrated the encyclopaedia over the centuries. And it asks what one should do with an old set of encyclopaedias today, now that we can get almost all the information we need from our phones. Simon Garfield was born in London in 1960. He lives with his wife Justine near Hampstead Heath in London, and sometimes in St Ives, Cornwall. His favourite typeface is Albertus and his favourite football club is Chelsea. He enjoys reading most things by Tracy Kidder, Ann Patchett, Elizabeth Strout, Nicholson Baker, Michael Chabon, Simon Armitage, and is seldom disappointed by the The Kills, The National, Elvis Costello or Lucy Dacus. www.simongarfield.com
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