Simon Garfield was born in London in 1960. He is the author of an appealingly diverse and unpredictable canon of non-fiction, including Just My Type, On the Map, Mauve, The Nation's Favourite, The End of Innocence, To The Letter, A Notable Woman and The Wrestling, and has edited three popular collections of diaries from the Mass Observation Archive.
Much of his 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.
His latest book is In Miniature: How Small Things Illuminate The World, a highly original investigation of our obsessive attempts to bring things down to size in order to better understand them. In its pages you'll discover tiny Eiffel Towers, diminutive crime scenes crafted to catch a killer, model villages and miniscule railways, artists of the acid scene, theatre designers and architects, and people who have somehow managed to create The Last Supper within the eye of a needle.
Bringing together history, psychology, art, and wide-eyed fascination, the book explores what fuels the strong appeal of miniature objects among collectors, modelers, and fans. The toys we enjoy as children invest us with a rare power at a young age, conferring on us a taste of adult-sized authority. For some, the desire to play with small things becomes a desire to make small things. We live in a vast and uncertain world, and controlling just a tiny, scaled-down part of it restores our sense of order and worth.
As it explores flea circuses, microscopic food, ancient tombs, and the Vegas Strip, In Miniature changes the way we perceive our surroundings, encouraging all of us to find greatness in the smallest of things.
His earlier work is similarly particular. His accessible history of fonts, Just My Type, turned out to be a hit, which reassured him that he was not alone in his passions. His book On The Map was also an international bestseller, while his book To The Letter was one of the inspirations for the Letters Live theatrical events. My Dear Bessie was turned into a BBC Radio 4 play starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey.
His book Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time, explores how the Beatles learnt to be brilliant in an hour and a half, how an Englishman arrived back from Calcutta but refused to adjust his watch, and how a US Senator gave a speech that lasted more than 24 hours. We also learn how the horrors of war are frozen at the click of a camera, a woman designs a ten-hour clock and reinvents the calendar, and Roger Bannister lives out the same four minutes forever.
Garfield also edited A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt. This is an edited collection of one woman's remarkable 60-year diary, beginning in 1925 when she was 15 and ending a few week before her death in 1986. Jean lived in Wembley, Hampstead and Burnham Beeches, and she wrote lyrically, comically and honestly about her world and her friends (and particularly well about how disappointing men are.). She trained as a journalist and an architect, and ran a bookshop for 20 years. Jean wrote well over a million words, and A Notable Woman, which contains about a quarter of her output, fulfils a long-standing dream of hers that her writing would one day make it into print.
Garfield also enjoys Hampstead Heath, cycling, globe-spinning by Presuming Ed, and writing by Tracy Kidder, Nicholson Baker, Olivia Laing, Max Porter, among many others, and while he's writing is inspired by The National, Dylan, Costello and Angel Olsen.