"David McKie's incredibly detailed research and his diamond-sharp prose make this book a delight, full of wisdom and fun." Simon Hoggart "We are all slaves to our surnames. There is no escape from them. Be they grand or humble, David McKie sees behind every one a trail of genealogy and history, wealth and poverty, celebrity and shame. Names are the nation's most secretive record, our island still in code. It is brilliantly revealed in this book." Simon Jenkins "Endlessly entertaining ... [McKie] buzzes like a bee from source to source, collecting all the sweetest things." Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday "[A] delightful book ... [McKie] remains throughout both a beguiling and erudite guide." Andrew Holgate, The Sunday Times "A book of great zest and interest ... wonderful eruptions of bare lists of strange or silly names, beguiling anecdotes, and interesting titbits ... McKie has a whimsical cast of mind and a fine sense of humour." Sam Leith, The Guardian
David McKie formerly worked for the Guardian as a political reporter, deputy editor, chief leader writer, and author of the "Elsewhere" and "Smallweed" columns. His much-praised account of a Victorian conman, Jabez: The Rise and Fall of a Victorian Rogue, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award. He has also written such widely acclaimed books as Great British Bus Journeys and McKie's Gazetteer.