E. H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World has become a cult classic since it was published in English for the first time by Yale University Press. Today Yale publishes a luxury illustrated edition, which further enriches Gombrich’s enchanting and distinctive narrative.
Those who have read Ernst Gombrich‘s A Little History of the World will recall the wonderful introduction by Leonie Gombrich, the author’s granddaughter. In it she describes how her grandfather, an unemployed graduate in 1935, undertook the ambitious project of writing a world history within a tiny six-week deadline. Leonie describes how Ernst wrote the book, feverishly planning in the morning, researching during the day, and writing in the evening. The author worked like this non-stop until the project was finished. The only exceptions were Sundays, when Ernst would test out his work-in-progress by reading it aloud to Ilse Heller, a music student of his mother’s, who he would later marry. Gombrich met his deadline and the rest, as they say, is history.
Although originally written in 1935 A Little History wasn’t published in English until 2005 by Yale University Press. Since then the book has become one of the treasures of historical writing. The Yale edition alone has now sold over half a million copies, and the book is available worldwide in almost thirty languages.
It is Gombrich’s enchanting narrative voice, which so bewitched Isle, that makes A Little History so unique. Gombrich was of course an expert in art history, and his vivid descriptions, alive with colour and movement, suggests illustrations on every page. Yale’s illustrated edition of A Little History of the World brings together the pellucid humanity of Gombrich’s narrative (A Little History was eventually banned by the Nazis for its pacifistic outlook) with the images that may well have been in his mind’s eye as he wrote the book.
Yale’s new edition offers freshly drawn maps, a revised preface, a new index and most importantly, two hundred illustrations (most of them in full colour). These beautiful new images enrich Grombrich’s text and enhance the pleasure of reading this remarkable work.
Yale Little Histories
A Little History of the World: Illustrated Edition is part of Yale University Press’s Little History books, which includes E. H. Gombrich’s original A Little History of the World, Nigel Warburton’s A Little History of Philosophy and David Crystal’s A Little Book of Language.