Notes from a Small Island

Notes from a Small Island

Notes from a Small Island

Here are certain idiosyncratic notions that you quietly come to accept when you live for a long time in Britain. One is that British summers used to be longer and sunnier. Another is that the England football team shouldn’t have any trouble with Norway. A third is the idea that Britain is a big place. This last is easily the most intractable.


Bill Bryson is an unabashed Anglophile who, through a mistake of history, happened to be born and bred in Iowa. Righting that error, he spent 20 years in England before deciding to repatriate. This was partly to let his wife and children experience life in Bryson’s homeland – and partly because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another. It was thus clear to him that his people needed him. But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain. His aim was to take stock of modern-day Britain, and to analyze what he loved so much about a country that produced Marmite, zebra crossings, and place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey, and Shellow Bowells.

From the Compact Disc edition.