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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Profile: Bill Bryson
In his professional and personal life, American author Bill Bryson has frequently confounded expectations and bridged seemingly impossible divides. In his new role he will lead campaigns to prevent littering.

Bill Bryson
Bryson has won several awards for his writing

His travel writing - including the best-selling Notes from a Small Island - has drawn plaudits from both sides of the Atlantic.

In 2003, his first attempt at writing a popular science book - A Short History Of Nearly Everything - saw him fronting campaigns to promote science teaching in schools.

He has a host of honorary posts and degrees from universities - including Liverpool John Moores, a city he once branded a "festival of litter".

But his latest announcement - that he is putting his writing career on hold to become president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) - is perhaps his most surprising move yet.

Partly because it seems an unusual post for an American, and partly because the author himself acknowledges he is no expert on matters of campaigning.

CPRE Chairman Sir Nigel Thompson described Bryson as "a person who communicates how wonderful and precious England's countryside is to the widest possible audience".

Awards and praise

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951, Bryson first discovered the UK for himself on a backpacking trip in 1973.

While in England, he met his wife and made the transatlantic move long-term, eventually becoming a reporter with both the Times and the Independent.

The fact is that this is still the best place in the world for most things

After living in various parts of England, and moving back to the US for eight years, Bryson finally returned to England in 2003 and settled in Norfolk.

In the mid-1980s he turned to writing full-time, producing his first travel book The Lost Continent in 1988.

Awards and praise have flooded in ever since, not least for his much loved assessment of Britain in Notes from a Small Island.

In one memorable passage, he sums up the UK as a country that "did nearly everything right" in the 1940s, "then spent the rest of the century looking on itself as a chronic failure".

"The fact is that this is still the best place in the world for most things," he wrote.

As well as tackling popular science, Bryson has also written about the English language in Mother Tongue and Made in America.

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