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'Anybody who loves the printed word will be bowled over by this amusing, erudite, beautiful book about books. It is in every way a triumph. One of the loveliest books to have been published for many, many years.' Alexander McCall Smith
'An utterly joyous journey into the deepest eccentricities of the human mind… The most cheering, fascinating book I’ve read for ages.' Guardian
'Brooke-Hitching’s prose is elegant and witty [and] the images...make the book a real joy.' Spectator
'The most beautiful objects in literature. You're going to love this. Extraordinary.' Dan Snow

From the author of the critically acclaimed and globally successful The Phantom AtlasThe Golden Atlas and The Sky Atlas comes a stunning new work. The Madman’s Library is a unique, beautifully illustrated journey through the entire history of literature, delving into its darkest territories to hunt down the very strangest books ever written, and uncover the fascinating stories behind their creation.

This is a madman’s library of eccentric and extraordinary volumes from around the world, many of which have been completely forgotten. Books written in blood and books that kill, books of the insane and books that hoaxed the globe, books invisible to the naked eye and books so long they could destroy the Universe, books worn into battle, books of code and cypher whose secrets remain undiscovered… and a few others that are just plain weird.

From the 605-page Qur'an written in the blood of Saddam Hussein, through the gorgeously decorated 15th-century lawsuit filed by the Devil against Jesus, to the lost art of binding books with human skin, every strand of strangeness imaginable (and many inconceivable) has been unearthed and bound together for a unique and richly illustrated collection ideal for every book-lover.

 

Photograph © Alex Anstey

Edward Brooke-Hitching is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling trilogy The Phantom Atlas (2016), The Golden Atlas (2018) and The Sky Atlas (2019), as well as The Madman's Library (2020), all of which have been translated into numerous languages; he is also the author of Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports (2015). He is a writer for the BBC series QI. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an incurable cartophile, he lives surrounded by dusty heaps of old maps and books in London. 

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (October 7, 2020)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471166914

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‘Sit back and enjoy the ride as the book sails off into ever more outlandish territoryThe Madman’s Library owes as much to his journalistic eye for a good story as it does to bibliographic expertise. It fairly barrels along, delivering a riot of colourful episodes and even more colourful images. Special mention should be made of the illustrations, in fact, since they carry the book every bit as much as the text…This is a book to dip into, browse, fondle and ogle rather than read cover to cover. For bibliophiles who have missed the serendipitous delights of actual libraries over the past few months, it’s the ideal tonic.’

– Gill Partington, Literary Review

‘This riotous history of weird and wonderful books… It’s suitably lively…but never loses sight of the history among the hijinks.’

– History Revealed

More books from this author: Edward Brooke-Hitching