the odditorium

The Odditorium is a fun, quirky book compiled by David Bramwell and Jo Keeling, about life’s eccentrics, visionaries, and complete nutters.

I love this book. It shines a light on long-forgotten visionaries, tricksters, and subversives lost in history. There was Harry Bensley, who in Victorian times wandered around England in an iron mask, then there’s Reginald Bray who became a cult celebrity posting over 30,0000 singular items through Royal Mail; Sun Ra inspired a movement through the medium of 70’s psychedelic jazz to move all black people to live on Saturn. Then there’s my personal favourite, the completely batty Baroness Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven, who wore a cake on her head as a fashion statement.

The Odditorium is broken up into sections. Tricksters and Subversives, Creative Mavericks, Wild at Heart, Pioneers and Inventors and Explorers of the mind. Each section has 8-10 examples of lesser known ‘oddities’ that changed the world and brought a much-needed bit of colour to the world while they were here.
The perfect book for anyone that needs reminding that it’s perfectly fine to be different.

Jazz music just makes me think of Ron Burgundy!

This cute little A5 hardback book will have you sharing facts and dipping in and out of these short, yet entertaining chapters about history’s tricksters, eccentrics, deviants and inventors whose obsessions changed the world.

5 Stars from me. Ideal for Christmas or the Office Kris Kringle!

Share this post with the oddball in your life, or buy now with Booktopia!


Book Blurb on The Odditorium

THE ODDITORIUM is a fascinating, quirky and beautifully illustrated gift book from the creators of the award-winning Ernest Journal. Celebrating curiosity and adventure, THE ODDITORIUM explores the obsessions, achievements and failures of lesser-known but utterly remarkable individuals who exemplify the human spirit through their stories of invention, trickery, subversion and survival.
The ODDITORIUM is a playful re-telling of history, told not through the lens of its victors, but through the fascinating stories of a wealth of individuals who, while lesser-known, are no less remarkable.

Throughout its pages, you’ll learn about the antics and adventures of tricksters, eccentrics, deviants and inventors. While their stories range from heroic failures to great hoaxes, one thing unites them – they all carved their own path through life. Each protagonist exemplifies the human spirit through their dogged determination, willingness to take risks, their unflinching obsession and, often, a good dollop of eccentricity.
Learn about Reginald Bray (1879-1939), a Victorian accountant who sent over 30,000 singular objects through the mail, including himself; Cyril Hoskin (1910-1981), a Cornish plumber who reinvented himself as a Tibetan lama and went on to sell over a million books; and Elaine Morgan (1920-2013), a journalist who battled a tirade of prejudice to pursue an aquatic-based theory of human evolution, which is today being championed by David Attenborough.
Elsewhere, we uncover the lesser-known obsessions of such historical giants as Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726), whose beloved alchemy led to a lifetime’s search for the philosopher’s stone and elixir of life; and philosopher Ren Descartes (1596-1650), whose obsession with cross-eyed ladies led him to seek a ‘cure’ through the first recorded case of CBT.
While many of us are content to lead a conventional life, with all of its comfort and security, THE ODDITORIUM reminds us of the characters who felt compelled to carve their own path, despite risking ostracism, failure, ridicule and madness. While history wouldn’t be the same without the likes of Shakespeare, Caesar and Einstein, it is when curiosity and compulsion meet that conventions are challenged, culture is re-invigorated and we find new ways to understand ourselves and the world around us.

Biographical Notes

David Bramwell (Author)

David is the creator of the bestselling Cheeky Guides and author of travel memoir The No9 Bus to Utopia, (“packed with wisdom, humour and pathos.” Tom Hodgkinson, Idler), which has since evolved into an award-winning one man show, Radio 3 documentary and TEDx talk. David is a presenter on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 and has made programs on subjects ranging from time travel to Ivor Cutler. In 2011 he won a Sony Silver Award for The Haunted Moustache. He is a regular contributor to Ernest Journal, co-hosts the Odditorium podcast and has written books on alcohol and hard words for Harper Collins. “A remarkable storyteller.” (Radio Times).
Jo Keeling (Author)
Jo is the editor and publisher of Ernest Journal, an award winning digital and printed magazine for the curious and adventurous. It is a guide for those who appreciate true craftsmanship, slow adventure and eccentric history. She worked on the launch team for Countryfile magazine,
launched and edited Pretty Nostalgic magazine and co-authored Wild Guide: Devon, Cornwall and South West. She writes regularly for Countryfile, The Simple Things,The Guardian, Independent and She has hosted Bristol’s Biggest Indoor Picnic and collaborated on events at Wilderness Festival, Port Eliot and Eroica Britannia.