'A fool and his words are soon parted' wrote William Shenstone in 1764; one might add that 'A wit and his words are rarely collected'. Here is the antidote: a dazzling survey of the funniest remarks, quips and observations from Ancient Rome, the Bible and Chaucer right up to The Simpsons and Little Britain. Over 5,000 of the very funniest remarks to have appeared on paper since, well, paper was invented. The quotations are arranged thematically and cover all aspects of life: from the world we inhabit to the things we eat, smoke and drink; from the way we move around to what and how we learn - oh, and the pointlessness of football. There is a short biography of all of the authors in the book, a brief contextual note for each quotation and an index of keywords to help you find you chosen witticism quickly. But do not be over-hasty when you use this book: it is a browser's delight, and should be enjoyed at leisure.
Andrew Martin, a former Spectator Young Writer of the Year, grew up in Yorkshire. He has written for the Evening Standard, the Sunday Times, the Independent on Sunday and the Daily Telegraph, among others. His weekly column appears in the New Statesman. His much-praised first novel, Bilton, described by Jon Ronson as 'extremely funny, genuinely moving and even a little scary', was followed by The Bobby Dazzlers, which Tim Lott hailed as 'truly unusual - a comic novel that actually makes you laugh'. His other novels are The Necropolis Railway and The Blackpool Flyer.