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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 21:08 GMT
Bryson tops 'England' poll
Bill Bryson
Bryson said he has great affection for the UK
A travelogue by US author Bill Bryson has been chosen as the book which best represents England in a poll organised for World Book Day.

Notes from a Small Island, a book based on Bryson's experiences in Britain, was chosen ahead of classics such as George Orwell's 1984 and George Monbiot's Captive State.

In the poll, Welsh readers chose Work, Sex And Rugby by Lewis Davies, Scottish readers picked Me And Ma Girl by Des Dillon while Northern Ireland chose Desire Lines by Annie McCartney.

In a separate poll organised by BBC Radio 4, English listeners made Orwell's 1984 their choice.

Notes from a Small Island
Bryson's book was a best-seller
Bryson, who lived in the UK for 20 years, said he was delighted by the honour.

"I'm both grateful, and surprised, to receive this honour.

"We are just about to move back to the UK so it's especially pleasing that my affection for the country has been recognised at this time."

Originally from Des Moines in Iowa, he settled in England after visiting on a backpacking trip.

He lived for many years in north Yorkshire with his wife and children and his book topped the best-seller lists.

The results from the two polls varied considerably with only Desire Lines being picked in both surveys as the book which best represents Northern Ireland.

McCartney, speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, said she was "absolutely thrilled" to have been picked.

The novel is splendidly alive
Author Kazuo Ishiguro
In the Radio 4 poll, Scottish listeners chose Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, while the most popular book for Wales was Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas.

Richard Weight, author of Patriots - National identity in Britain 1940 - 2000, told Today: "Literature does reflect national character.

"The enduring popularity of 1984 displays an enduring English obsession with the state and fears of the state.

"What's interesting about the Welsh and Scottish books is that they are very much about being rooted in the land and being exiled from it."

Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is my all time favourite read
Fiona Fraser, UK

World Book Day, organised by the Publishers Association and the Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland, is an annual festival of reading.


Special packs will be handed out in schools and 14 million 1 Book Tokens will be handed out to encourage children to read.

Speaking about both polls on the the Today programme, author Kazuo Ishiguro said: "The novel is splendidly alive.

"One of the things that strikes me about the poll is the balance between contemporary modern books and old classics."

Ishiguro, author of Remains of the Day, which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins, described 1984 as the "greatest English novel of the 20th Century."

Book festival nets top authors
04 Mar 03 |  Entertainment
Girls 'read twice as much as boys'
13 Mar 02 |  Education
Poll chooses top Scots book
06 Mar 03 |  Scotland

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