Bill Bryson is a best-selling author whose books have sold more than 15 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. His science book "A Short History of Nearly Everything" won the 2004 Aventis Prize of the Royal Society and the Descartes Prize, the European Union’s highest literary award. His other books include "A Walk in the Woods," "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid," "At Home: A Short History of Private Life," and the biography "William Shakespeare: The World as Stage." In the fall of 2015, "A Walk in the Woods" was released as a movie starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.
Bryson was Chancellor of the University of Durham, England’s third oldest university, from 2005 to 2011, and for four years was on the board of directors of English Heritage, the British government body responsible for England’s historic environment. From 2006 to 2012, he was president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, one of Britain’s oldest conservation organizations.
In 2006, he was awarded an honorary OBE (Order of the British Empire) by the British government, and the President’s Prize by Britain’s Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2007, the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts, gave him its annual Bradford Washburn Award, its highest award, for contributions to the popularization of science, and in 2009 he was made an honorary fellow of the Kavli Institute of Particle Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is an honorary fellow of the British Science Association and of the Royal Society of Chemistry and was editor of the Royal Society’s 350th-anniversary book, "Seeing Further."
Since 2008, the Royal Society of Chemistry has had an annual Bill Bryson Prize for the best school science project. In 2012, he received the Kenneth B. Myer Award from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience in Melbourne, Australia.
He has honorary degrees from Drake University and Oberlin College in America and from over 10 British universities.
Bryson is the author of a charitable book, "African Diary," which has raised over $500,000 for CARE International, the overseas aid organization. He is a longtime supporter of Conservation International, which works to save endangered species and habitats throughout the world, and has given keynote speeches at its conferences in New York and Los Angeles.
In Britain, he is a patron of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Friends of Durham Cathedral. He is also closely associated with the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, the Woodland Trust, St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, SAVE Britain’s Heritage, and the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. He is currently patron of the Love Hearts Appeal at Great Ormond Street, which aims to raise funds for new facilities for transplant patients and to increase awareness of the need for organ donations.
Bryson was born in 1951 in Des Moines, Iowa, and was raised and educated there, but he has spent most of his adult life in England. Before becoming a full-time freelance writer in 1987, he worked as a journalist, principally on The Times.
In addition to his books, he has written extensively for newspapers and magazines throughout the English-speaking world, including National Geographic, the New Yorker, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Sydney Morning Herald.
He lives in Hampshire, England, with his English wife, Cynthia. He has four grown children and numerous grandchildren. His principal interests outside work and family are walking in the English countryside and gardening.
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