By Hugo Harris
Bill Bryson, the celebrated US author and former Durham University Chancellor, has revealed in an interview that his love for Durham City and the North East remains as strong as ever.
Interviewed by Chronicle Live to help promote the ‘Durham, Place of Light campaign, a campaign initiated by Durham County Council to promote investment in the county, Bryson said: “Durham and the North East in general are the friendliest parts of the country by far.”
He added: “Durham University is not just one of the most outstanding universities in the country but in the world. When you consider that the university is also part of a World Heritage Site, closely associated with stunning architecture and surrounded by a great wealth of history and beauty, that’s what makes Durham very special.”
The former Chancellor’s passion for Durham first became apparent in the publication of his book Notes from a Small Island twenty years ago. At the time, he wrote the following about the city: “Why, it’s wonderful—a perfect little city—and I kept thinking: ‘Why did no-one tell me about this?’
“I knew, of course, that it had a fine Norman cathedral but I had no idea that it was so splendid. I couldn’t believe that not once in twenty years had anyone said to me, ‘You’ve never been to Durham? Good God, man, you must go at once! Please – take my car.’”
Bryson became Durham University’s eleventh Chancellor in 2005, taking over the role from actor Sir Peter Ustinov, and stepped down from the role in 2011.
Then University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Higgins, said: “Bill has done far more than simply fulfill his ceremonial duties, he has given his time, passion and inimitable talent to raise the university’s national and international profile in so many ways.”
Photograph: North News and Pictures Ltd