Bill Bryson, author of the publishing phenomenon A Short History of Nearly Everything, is to be honoured by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The author will be at the Palace of Westminster on Tuesday, 1 November, when the Society will confer upon him its President's Award for services to advancing the cause of the chemical sciences.
His remarkable science book has, in paperback alone, been in the Sunday Times/Bookseller top ten listing of general books for an astonishing 68 weeks, achieving sales of 1,032, 940 up to yesterday and 3,240 in the last week alone.
Presenting the award at Westminster will be drug discovery scientist Dr Simon Campbell, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Dr Campbell will confer the award on Mr Bryson following an introduction, by Science Minister Lord Sainsbury, of the Society's Chemistry Week 2005 (4-13 November).
"Bill Bryson's achievement ... is to have engaged millions of lay people, as well as the science community, in the dramatic history of scientific discovery"
Dr Campbell, who launched the Royal Society of Chemistry's current Campaign for Chemistry, said today: "We have been privileged this year to have had the support of Bill Bryson, whose book impressed me and many of my colleagues by its outstanding command of detail and by the manner in which it made science accessible and inviting to non-scientists.
"In June Bill worked with us to send, at a reduced rate, a copy of his book to every secondary school in Britain, totalling about 5,500, which triggered a gratifying response from head teachers, science teachers, librarians and pupils."
On top of this, Bill Bryson is to lend his name and financial support to an RSC prize aimed at schools, which will encourage and reward science writing and communication as part of students' school experience.
Dr Campbell added: "Not surprisingly, the Royal Society of Chemistry is utterly committed to driving home the message that a thriving science base is essential to the future health and wealth of Britain and central to the challenges of the 21st century amongst which are global warming, sustainable energy, and the problems of Third World poverty and disease.
"Bill Bryson's achievement in A Short History of Nearly Everything is to have engaged millions of lay people, as well as the science community, in the dramatic history of scientific discovery and the universe and by doing so has placed science very much in the public mind. This RSC President's Award is recognition of that remarkable achievement and of Mr Bryson's personal commitment to our own cause."
Bill Bryson at WestminsterPicture: The Royal Society of Chemistry