The Madman's Library: The Strangest Books, Manuscripts and Other Literary Curiosities from History (Hardcover)

The Madman's Library: The Strangest Books, Manuscripts and Other Literary Curiosities from History By Edward Brooke-Hitching Cover Image
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This fascinating and bizarre collection compiles the most unusual, obscure books from the far reaches of the human imagination throughout history.

From the author of the critically acclaimed bestsellers The Phantom Atlas and The Sky Atlas comes a unique and beautifully illustrated journey through the history of literature. The Madman's Library delves into its darkest territories to hunt down the oddest books and manuscripts ever written, uncovering the intriguing stories behind their creation.

From the Qur'an written in the blood of Saddam Hussein, to the gorgeously decorated fifteenth-century lawsuit filed by the Devil against Jesus, to the most enormous book ever created, The Madman's Library features many long forgotten, eccentric, and extraordinary volumes gathered from around the world.

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 and books of code and cypher whose secrets remain undiscovered. Spell books, alchemist scrolls, wearable books, edible books, books to summon demons, books written by ghosts, and more all come together in the most curiously strange library imaginable.

Featuring hundreds of remarkable images and packed with entertaining facts and stories to discover, The Madman's Library is a captivating compendium perfect for bibliophiles, literature enthusiasts, and collectors intrigued by bizarre oddities, obscure history, and the macabre.

• MUST-HAVE FOR BOOKLOVERS: Anyone who appreciates a good read will love delving into this weird world of books and adding this collection to their own bookshelf.
• DISCOVER SOMETHING TRULY UNIQUE: The Madman's Library will let you in on the secret and obscure histories of the strangest books ever made.
• EXPERT AUTHOR: Edward Brooke-Hitching is the son of an antiquarian book dealer, a lifelong rare book collector, and a master of taking visual deep dives into unusual historical subjects, such as the maps of imaginary geography in The Phantom Atlas or ancient pathways through the stars in The Sky Atlas.

About the Author

Edward Brooke-Hitching is the author of beautifully illustrated non-fiction titles, such as The Phantom Atlas and The Sky Atlas. A writer for the hit BBC television show QI and a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, Edward lives in a dusty heap of old books and maps in London.

Praise For…

"A must-have for any bibliomaniac. Over the course of this splendidly illustrated volume, Brooke-Hitching reviews the history of the book, investigating a variety of forms and a wide range of media but always emphasizing the extraordinary. "


"Strikingly illustrated...beguiling"

-The Washington Post

"Bursts with life-from its eye-catching dust jacket to its gorgeous endpapers to its vibrant illustrations throughout-and it delivers exactly what it promises: cryptic books, literary hoaxes, and all manner of bookish oddities. The Madman's Library is nothing short of spectacular."  - Fine Books Collections

Brooke-Hitching is a wry, likable ring master, threading his acts together with an arch, enjoyable erudition.and The Madman's Library, bursting at the seams, is really rather wonderful.

- The Spectator (US)


- Open Culture

"Viscerally delightful: get it for yourself, give it as a gift, keep it close by as a dopamine-boosting alternative to scrolling through your phone."

-Vanity Fair

Gift Guide selection

"[Brooke-Hitching] spent a decade on the trail of the world's oddest books, from tomes written in bood and indecipherablre codes to those bound in human skin and everything in between. This sumptuously illustrated book about books will thrill any esoteric bibliophile in your life." -- Mental Floss

"The Madman's Library, bursting at the seams, is really rather wonderful." -The Spectator (UK)

Gift Guide pick

"Elegant and witty, and a real joy." - What's On

Product Details
ISBN: 9781797207308
ISBN-10: 179720730X
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: April 6th, 2021
Pages: 256
Language: English