Travel and science writer Bill Bryson has sad news for his legions of readers.
“I’ve decided to retire,” he told Times Radio in an interview, as reported in the Telegraph. The 68-year-old author explained that he actually put down his pen about a year ago as an experiment — and “it has been successful and I’m pretty likely to continue.”
Born and raised in Iowa, Bryson emigrated to the U.K. in 1973. He came to prominence in the mid ’90s with a book exploring his adopted country, Notes from a Small Island, later a popular television series. More than 20 titles followed, fueled by his seemingly boundless curiosity about the world, including A Walk in the Woods, an account of an 800-mile hike on the Appalachian trail and In a Sunburnt Country, which Kirkus called “an appreciative, informative, and hilarious portrait of the land Down Under.” The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, At Home, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way are among the other titles in his veritable constellation of Kirkus stars.
If he keeps his word, The Body: A Guide For Occupants, published last year, will be the end of the line.
“You only get one life,” Bryson said. “That is pretty evident to all of us. I would quite like to spend the part that is left to me, which I hope is a significant part, but only a fraction, doing all the things I’ve not been able to do. Like enjoying my family—I have masses of grandchildren and I would love to spend more time with them just down on the floor.”
Who can begrudge him that? But there’s more: “For the first time in decades I’ve been reading for pleasure and finding I’m really enjoying it.”
Marion Winik is a regular Kirkus reviewer and author of The Big Book of the Dead.