The Madman’s Library: A World of Extraordinary Books

The British Library = Jan 31, 2021

Edward Brooke-Hitching talks to TV producer and writer John Lloyd (Blackadder, QI and much more) about his new book The Madman’s Library, a journey that takes us into the darkest territories of literature, to hunt down the very strangest books ever written and uncover the fascinating stories behind their creation.

From a gorgeously decorated 15th-century lawsuit filed by the Devil against Jesus to a 605-page Qur’an written in the blood of Saddam Hussein, to the lost art of binding books with human skin, every strand of strangeness imaginable (and many inconceivable) has been unearthed. Books that hoaxed the globe and books invisible to the naked eye, books of code and cypher whose secrets remain undiscovered… and others that are just plain weird. Several have been uncovered in the British Library’s own collections.

Praise for The Madman’s Library

‘Anybody who loves the printed word will be bowled over by this amusing, erudite, beautiful book about books. It is in every way a triumph. One of the loveliest books to have been published for many, many years’
Alexander McCall Smith

‘Quite simply the best gift for any book lover this year, or perhaps ever’
Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times Literary Book of the Year

‘The most beautiful objects in literature. You’re going to love this. Extraordinary’
Dan Snow

‘An utterly joyous journey into the deepest eccentricities of the human mind…The most cheering, fascinating book I’ve read for ages’
Alison Flood, Guardian

Edward Brooke-Hitching is a writer for the popular BBC TV show QI. He is also the author of the non-fiction bestsellers The Sky Atlas, The Golden Atlas (shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Writing Award), The Phantom Atlas, Fox Tossing Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports. His writing has featured in the Guardian, the London Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Literary Review, the Spectator, the Economist, the Washington Post and others; and he has appeared on shows including BBC Radio 4’s Museum of Curiosity, Start the Week with Andrew Marr, and the Radio 2 Arts Show with Jonathan Ross. The son of an antiquarian book dealer and an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he lives in a dusty heap of old maps and books in London.

John Lloyd is a television and radio comedy producer and writer, best known for his work on QI, Blackadder, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Spitting Image and Not the Nine O’Clock News. He is currently the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Museum of Curiosity.


Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)

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