The bestselling phenomenon – an enthralling 6,000-year journey through the history of books and reading
A FINANCIAL TIMES, ECONOMIST AND MAIL ON SUNDAY BOOK OF THE YEAR
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BRITISH ACADEMY BOOK PRIZE 2023
‘Outstanding, universal and unique’ NEW YORK TIMES
‘A literary phenomenon.’ TLS
Long before books were mass-produced, scrolls hand copied on reeds pulled from the Nile were the treasures of the ancient world. Emperors and Pharaohs were so determined to possess them that they dispatched emissaries to the edges of the earth to bring them back.
In Papyrus, celebrated classicist Irene Vallejo traces the dramatic history of the book and the fight for its survival. This is the story of the book’s journey from oral tradition to scrolls to codices, and how that transition laid the very foundation of Western culture. And it is a story full of heroic adventures, bloodshed and megalomania – from the battlefields of Alexander the Great and the palaces of Cleopatra to the libraries of war-torn Sarajevo and Oxford.
An international bestseller, Papyrus brings the ancient world to life and celebrates the enduring power of the written word.