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The madmans library 9781471166914 hr
The Madman's Library

The Madman's Library

The Greatest Curiosities of Literature
Edward Brooke-Hitching
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Brief description

A stunning new volume from Edward Brooke-Hitching, revealing some of the strangest books ever written and produced.

Full description


From the author of the critically acclaimed and globally successful The Phantom Atlas, The Golden Atlas and The Sky Atlas comes a stunning new work. The Madman's Library is a unique, beautifully illustrated journey through the entire history of literature, delving into its darkest territories to hunt down the very strangest books ever written, and uncover the fascinating stories behind their creation.

This is a madman's library of eccentric and extraordinary volumes from around the world, many of which have been completely forgotten. Books written in blood and books that kill, books of the insane and books that hoaxed the globe, books invisible to the naked eye and books so long they could destroy the Universe, books worn into battle, books of code and cypher whose secrets remain undiscovered... and a few others that are just plain weird.

From the 605-page Qur'an written in the blood of Saddam Hussein, through the gorgeously decorated 15th-century lawsuit filed by the Devil against Jesus, to the lost art of binding books with human skin, every strand of strangeness imaginable (and many inconceivable) has been unearthed and bound together for a unique and richly illustrated collection ideal for every book-lover.


'This gorgeous collection of bizarre books through the ages... My favourite - and the jaw-dropping bar is high here - is the beautiful, tubercular, 19th-century countess who asked an author to bind his next novel in her skin (he obliged; who wouldn't?). Quite simply the best gift for any book lover this year, perhaps ever.' -- Lucy Atkins * Sunday Times, Literary Book of the Year *

'Fabulously entertaining...a tour of the world, a cross-cultural paean to literary ingenuity in all its forms. The book itself is a handsome tome, full of extraordinary images: illuminated manuscripts, visions of the Devil, early anatomical texts. It is a strangely hopeful book: humankind in all its wild variety, set down somehow on paper.' -- Erica Wagner * Financial Times *

'The strangest books ever written, from tomes bound in human skin to a bible that conceals a pistol and a passage of Martian writing channelled through a psychic. A cornucopia of curiosities. Spellbinding...a fascinating tome.' * Daily Mail *

Author biography

Edward Brooke-Hitching is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling books The Phantom Atlas (2016), The Golden Atlas (2018), The Sky Atlas (2019), The Madman's Library (2020) and The Devil's Atlas (2021), all of which have been translated into numerous languages; he is also the author of Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports (2015). He is a writer for the BBC series QI. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an incurable cartophile, he lives surrounded by dusty heaps of old maps and books in Berkshire.