Bestselling author Bill Bryson said he had no hesitation in accepting the post as Durham University's chancellor.
Bill Bryson will become Durham University's 11th chancellor
It was announced on Monday that the writer is to become the university's 11th chancellor, succeeding Sir Peter Ustinov, who died in March 2004.
The US-born author has written of his affection for the city and described the north-east of England as "one of the friendliest corners of the planet".
He plans to use his role to strengthen the university's international links.
He said: "The north-east of England really is delightfully friendly and I mean that most sincerely.
"Durham, I think as anybody who has ever stepped out of the railway station and looked across the valley will appreciate, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
"The view of the cathedral is just absolutely stunning. I will never forget my first moment 30 years ago seeing it and it has been almost as exciting every time since.
"So there is all of that, a huge amount of history, a huge amount of beauty and a great deal of friendliness."
He said he was aware he had a tough act coming after Sir Peter Ustinov and would do his best to follow in his footsteps.
He said: "I am acutely aware of who I am following. The amount of warmth and affection with which he is regarded here in Durham is quite staggering and a little intimidating if you are following in his footsteps."
The chancellor's most public role is in conferring degrees at university ceremonies, but can also involve representing the public face of the university.
Vice-Chancellor Sir Kenneth Calman, said: "This is a wonderful cause for celebration. We are absolutely delighted that Bill Bryson has accepted our invitation to be chancellor."