Author left with ‘warm feelings’ after visit to town

Bill Bryson gives Lytham a glowing review in his new book
Bill Bryson gives Lytham a glowing review in his new book

Lytham has come in for glowing praise from renowned author Bill Bryson in his latest book.

The American-born writer who has spent most of his adult life in Britain goes into minute detail about an overnight stay in the town – and highlights the wide array of independent businesses as he nominates it as ‘the best small town in the North’.

Cover of The Road To Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

Cover of The Road To Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

The book, The Road To Little Dribbling: More Notes From A Small Island, is the follow-up to Bryson’s best-seller Notes From A Small Island, published 20 years ago, which celebrated his adopted country and was voted the book which most represents Britain.

Bryson’s new book has been proving popular at Lytham bookshop Plackitt and Booth, one of a number of businesses in the town which receive a specific mention in the volume, and co-owner Pat Booth said: “We were absolutely delighted when we saw the passage. Bill clearly loves Britain and towns such as ours and it really is a rave review of what Lytham has to offer.”

The Road To Little Dribbling contains Bryson’s thoughts on locations throughout the UK and the passage on Lytham says:

“It was quite late, getting on towards evening when I shuffled back into Lytham and I was tired, but fortunately there was an excellent and restorative pub called the Taps just behind my hotel and an Indian restaurant called Moshina’s (hygiene rating of 5 – well done fellows) a door or two down from it. The combination of these two left me with warm feelings towards Lytham and the world for some distance beyond.

I had a little stroll through the town after dinner and was delighted to find that Lytham on close inspection was even better than on my earlier flying appraisal

“I had a little stroll through the town after dinner and was delighted to find that Lytham on close inspection was even better than on my earlier flying appraisal.

“It had terrific old-fashioned shops. I was particularly taken with a menswear palace called George Ripley’s. It was gloriously of another age - the kind of place that sold cardigans with stripes and chevrons, jumpers with zippered pockets, ties with patterns, jackets with pointed collars that could be used as weapons in a street fight. I didn’t wish to own any of these clothes - I am a Splendesto man myself, as we know - but I was very pleased to find that there are evidently still people in the world who do want them. Long may Mr Ripley prosper, say I.

“Nearby was ‘Tom Towers’ Tasty Cheese Shop, est 1949, which I thought was impressively venerable until I came across Whelan’s Fish and Chips, est 1937. They both looked awfully nice.

“The town also boasted an old-fashioned department store called Stringers and a good-looking bookshop, Plackitt and Booth. A sign in the window announced that Victoria Hislop was due imminently, and I very much hope she had a good time.

“On the basis of all this I nominated Lytham as best small town in the north and in the spirit of celebration I wheeled into a cheery looking establishment called the Ship and Royal for a quick one before bedtime.”

Brought up in Des Moines, Iowa, Bryson arrived in England as a backpacker in 1973 after dropping out of college, fell in love with the country and with Cynthia Billen, a nurse he met when he landed a job at a psychiatric hospital in Surrey.

They have been married 40 years and have four children and nine grandchildren.

He worked for many years as a journalist, for the Bournemouth Evening Echo and later The Times, eventually settling in Yorkshire before returning to the US for a few years.

Bryson now lives in Hampshire.

• The Road To Little Dribbling: More Notes From A Small Island is published by Doubleday, priced £20.