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Icons of England [Paperback]

Bill Bryson
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
Price: £6.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

1 April 2010

This celebration of the English countryside does not only focus on the rolling green landscapes and magnificent monuments that set England apart from the rest of the world. Many of the contributors bring their own special touch, presenting a refreshingly eclectic variety of personal icons, from pub signs to seaside piers, from cattle grids to canal boats, and from village cricket to nimbies.

First published as a lavish colour coffeetable book, this new expanded paperback edition has double the original number of contributions from many celebrities including Bill Bryson, Michael Palin, Eric Clapton, Bryan Ferry, Sebastian Faulks, Kate Adie, Kevin Spacey, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Richard Mabey , Simon Jenkins, John Sergeant, Benjamin Zephaniah, Joan Bakewell, Antony Beevor, Libby Purves, Jonathan Dimbleby, and many more: and a new preface by HRH Prince Charles.

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Icons of England + Bill Bryson's African Diary + At Home: A short history of private life
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552776351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552776356
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. Settled in England for many years, he moved to America with his wife and four children for a few years ,but has since returned to live in the UK. His bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent, Notes From a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade in the UK.

Photography © Julian J

Product Description


"An icon in itself, with essays from many great writers on their favourite English sights" (The Times)

"bsolute must for Anglophiles of all ages... A delightfully wistful book, written with enormous affection" (She)

"A collection of thought-provoking essays celebrating Britain's rural heritage" (Business to Business)

Book Description

England: our favourite things, by well-known names led by Bill Bryson, Michael Palin and Eric Clapton.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
199 of 203 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oops, my mistake. 26 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of Bill Bryson and have his books (and audio books) in abundance, and always take at least one on holiday with me or if I'm away for a weekend.
So I bought this on the day it appeared, having seen his name on the cover. I recognised the style of illustration, the typeface, and therefore gladly took the plunge BUT as has been pointed out he did not write this. His contribution is the intro, and then apparently some 'editing'. So what you get is a list of people who claim the title 'celebrity' who tell us about their favourite bits of the country, their memories of childhood, or whatever pops into their acclaimed celebrity minds. Do I care what Trisha and the rest think about anything? No I don't. This book was dropped off at the charity shop very quickly and hopefully the British Heart Foundation will benefit from it far more than I did.

Initially I read the waffle contributed by some of the celebs (specifically, those people who don't annoy me) and then I tried some of the jottings by people who I've never heard of, and then on principle alone (having paid good money for this) I picked my way through those efforts written by people who ordinarily I couldn't care less about. And that's that, each one lasts a page or two and are all pretty much worthless unless you happen to be enamoured with the celebrity culture which we currently live in.

This product should not be emphasising Bill Bryson's name, and the cover art should not have been designed and illustrated in the style of all his other books. It's misleading, because it has very little to do with him. This sort of book is not for me. Some like it, I don't. I'll examine in detail the next book bearing his name before potentially wasting money on it!
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Icons of England 24 Jun 2010
I was disappointed when I received this book.
Mainly because it was not written by Bill Bryson, but it was articles written by other people and only edited by him,which was not made clear in any publicity.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Just village greens and cream teas 7 April 2010
I just finished my copy of Icons of England and I have to admit my pleasant surprise. Not just a rehash of traditional `English' countryside imagery, the book is full of witty and touching anecdotes from all over the country, including the cities.

Although the list of celebrity contributors was no great draw to me, the fact that many are professional writers or journalists has resulted in a much better read then books that traditionally sell because of the `celeb' factor.

As a cricket fan, I would compare reading this book, to listening to Test Match Special: relaxing, cosy, often witty and a comfort in times of trial.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Good 25 Nov 2010
Read this on a flight from England to Canada. Had hoped to have a good read that would have me fondly thinking of England, but most of the contributions were too short....and uninteresting.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I can only give a very average rating to this, but that's probably because I'm a huge fan of Bill Bryson, so the disappointment to discover that Bryson's only done what amounts to an introduction to the book, followed me the whole read. It does give some insights to favorite places throughout Britain, and certainly some unique views, but many are by people, frankly, I've never heard of, so that loses some credence...I could write one short item about my favorite place, if it came to that, and nobody ever heard of me, either, to the same effect.
That won't change my admiration for Bryson...I'll keep buying everything he writes, but next time Bill--unless you are the author, I'd be a bit more careful about applying your name.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars England Rocks! (just not at football or tennis) 2 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book proves I am not alone in enjoying the great country that is England and that there are others who enjoy the minutiae of life that makes England 'England'. I too enjoy walking in the countryside and enjoying the site of our natural wildlife; having cream teas at village teashops, enjoying the quiet of a church and relishing the history that surrounds it; and walking along piers because that's what one has to do when at the seaside. Reading the contributions that made it into the book one wonders on the tales and reminisces that didn't make it inside. It certainly has made me want to visit Norfolk, Rutland, Yorkshire and a myriad of other places to see these places before either big business or Mother Nature takes them away from us forever. Our villages and hamlets are already vanishing from the deluge of city dwellers with money who want a weekend home and then complain about the noise of the church bells and the smells from the local farms. What do they expect??? Telephone boxes, post offices, post boxes, butchers, bakers etc are already disappearing at an appalling rate. These are things that make England 'England' and we must save them!
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
By W Gates
Having just finished a copy of Icons of England it has really got me thinking about the English countryside and some of the everyday things that I cherish which I probably take for granted. I enjoyed many of the chapters with my favourites being Sister Wendy Becket on Churchyards, Floella Benjamin on the weather, Adrian Chiles on the Clent Hills and of course Bill Bryson on English Icons. I have made it a personal mission to visit some of the places described in the book and have already glimpsed Balcombe Viaduct (Jon Snow's Icon) and visited the beach at West Wittering (Jonathan Dimbleby).

I'd certainly recommend for reading on a lazy summer afternoon somewhere in the English countryside.
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