Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 16:13 UK

PM recalls childhood book heroes

Dr E A Wilson (left), H R Bowers, Robert Scott, Taff Evans and L E G Oates on the doomed 1912 expedition
Mr Brown was fascinated by the story of Captain Scott (centre back)

Stories of famous adventurers from his childhood encyclopaedia fascinated a young Gordon Brown, the PM has revealed in a book of short stories.

In his story, "When I was Ten", he says he went back to the book "again and again" and was struck by the "sad" tale of Antarctic explorer Captain Scott.

He also remarks that while he will never be a famous explorer, he is "quite happy" as a politician.

The charity anthology aims to encourage children to read with 366-word stories.

Mr Brown, who was recently mocked over suggestions he reminded people of Wuthering Heights' brooding anti-hero Heathcliff, says in his contribution to Wow! 366 he can still remember the stories and pictures from an encyclopaedia his parents gave him.

I know I'll never be an explorer or a great footballer, but I am quite happy as a politician
Gordon Brown's story

"I was only 10, and like most boys of that age, I hadn't travelled much and didn't know much either," he wrote.

"From my bedroom, or lying on the hearthrug in front of the fire, I went off on my travels again and again."

One story that particularly stuck in the prime minister's mind was that of the ill-fated expedition by Captain Scott. He recounts how Scott and his team failed to reach the South Pole before their rivals, then "ran out of food and died in the cold".

Mr Brown is one of scores of famous contributors to the anthology - some more light-hearted efforts by children's writers, such as the Bing Bang Bong Monster by writer and illustrator Sue Heap - and Freddy and the Pig by the writer and comedian Charlie Higson.

The prime minister's story, which is the first in the anthology, ends rather reflectively: "I know I'll never be an explorer or a great footballer, but I am quite happy as a politician."

He adds that his life continues to be "a voyage of discovery".

Mr Brown recommends Thomas the Tank Engine and the Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales for children to read.

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