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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 14:43 GMT
Bill Bryson made an honorary OBE
Tessa Jowell and Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson's first book was published in 1985
American author Bill Bryson has been made an honorary OBE for his contribution to literature.

Bryson, who is best known for his witty travel writings, received the honour from Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.

"I am surprised and very grateful to receive an honorary Order of the British Empire. It is a great honour," said the 55-year-old.

Ms Jowell said: "Despite having been born and raised in the US, he has become a true British institution."

Bryson, who has also worked as a journalist for the Times and the Independent, had his first book published in 1985.

He has gone on to write about the history of the English language in Mother Tongue and science in A Short History of Nearly Everything, for which he won the Aventis Prize in 2004.

Among his travel writings are Notes from a Big Country, about his pursuits around America, and Notes from a Small Island, which features his musings on Great Britain.

Last year the best-selling writer became chancellor of Durham University.




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