Melvyn Bragg's first novel, For Want of a Nail, was published in 1965 and since then his novels have included The Hired Man, for which he won the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, Without a City Wall, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, Credo, The Maid of Buttermere and The Soldier's Return, which was published to huge critical acclaim in 1999 and won the WHSmith Literary Award. He has also written several works of non-fiction including Speak for England, an oral history of the twentieth century, Rich, a biography of Richard Burton and On Giants' Shoulders, a history of science based on his BBC radio series. He was born in 1939 and educated at Wigton's Nelson Tomlinson Shool and at Oxford where he read history. He is controller of Arts at LWT and President of the National Campaign for the Arts, and in 1998 he was made a life peer. He lives in London and Cumbria.
Melvyn Bragg's superb new history of the English language is told as an adventure story, and rightly so. There is much splendid intellectual firepower in this book. - Andrew Roberts, Spectator Concise as well as learned...Melvyn Bragg takes the high road and strides confidently through the origins and growth of English. It gives us an impressive and sage view of the big picture. - Robert Winder, New Statesman Bragg is an expert translator in areas that academics find difficult to popularise...he produces a pithy, accessible narrative. - Guardian This breathless tale of the English language is one of struggle, resilience and triumph - Irish Times Beautifully clear and, indeed, thrilling - Waterstone's Books Quarterly Bragg's approachable account gleams with little gems. It has power and clarity...rewarding. - Sunday Herald Always readable, often thought-provoking, and consistently entertaining. - Independent This is a highly readable, jargon-free treatise on a notoriously prickly subject. Bragg's affection for his subject is infectious. In this he successfully joins a long tradition of gentleman enthusiasts from peppery Dr Johnson to genial James Murray. - Observer