HarperCollins has signed a history of Britain by Boris Starling with David Bradbury, told through figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Joel Simons, HarperNonFiction editorial director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Adam Gauntlett at Peters Fraser & Dunlop on behalf of the ONS and Juliet Mushens at Mushens Entertainment on behalf of Starling. The Official History of Britain: Our Story in Numbers as told by the Office for National Statistics will publish on 15th October 2020, ahead of the next Census in March 2021.
The synopsis explains: “Delving deep into statistics surrounding our occupations, our working lives, relationships; our quirks, habits, weird interests and cultural beliefs, and, of course, the latest findings on the Covid-19 pandemic, The Official History of Britain places Britain under the microscope and asks who we are and how we’ve changed as a nation.”
National statistician Professor Sir Ian Diamond said: “Britain has a long tradition of measuring things about the life of the country with a view to improving them. The ONS remains faithful to its central mission of producing statistics ‘for the public good’ and this book tells our national story through the facts and figures we and our predecessors have gathered down the years. From it we hope readers will see why we are quietly passionate about what we do and why, above all, it matters so much.”
Starling, a novelist and journalist who put the book together with ONS senior media officer Bradbury, commented: “Thirty years after doing my history degree, it’s finally come in useful. Statistics can sometimes seem a little dry, but numbers on censuses both bygone and current always represent real people and their myriad lives. Researching and writing this were never less than fascinating: finding snapshots of Britain past, present and future. I hope it’s as rewarding to read as it was to write.”
Simons added: “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with the ONS and Boris in putting together this brilliant book. It’s one of those books that has so many gems: the UK’s most popular Toponym? Florence. The location for the UK’s highest percentage of sign language practitioners? Thanet. Cause of death of Sir William Payne Gallwey in December 1881? A Turnip. We’ve seen during the current pandemic just how invaluable the ONS’ work has been; this book is a testament to that and just how much we can learn from national statistics throughout history.”
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