was the British author of the Top 10 of Everything series of books, as well as Great Wonders of the World, Incredible Comparisons and many other reference, art and humour titles, most notably his recent series of books on strange-but-true names, Potty, Fartwell & Knob, Busty, Slag and Nob End and (for children) Big Pants, Burpy and Bumface.
Russell Ash was born in Surrey, a descendant of a family of craftsmen – goldsmiths and silversmiths in 18th century London that included Claudius Ash
-Personal life:The second son of Sarjeant Ash and Lydia Ash née Smith, Claudius Ash was born in Bethnal Green, London, on 2 March 1792. He married Sarah Butler on 11 March 1813 and had eight children, four of whom, along with other members of the Ash family and their descendants, were engaged in...
(1792–1854), one of the pioneering inventors of false teeth. His father worked as a bookbinder for the British Museum Library and also served in the RAF in the Second World War.
The family moved to Bedford where he attended primary school and Bedford Modern School
Bedford Modern School is a British co-educational independent school in the Harpur area of Bedford, in the county of Bedfordshire, in England.Bedford Modern comprises a junior school and a senior school...
. He studied anthropology and geography at St Cuthbert's Society
St Cuthbert's Society, colloquially known as Cuth's, is one of sixteen collegiate bodies within the University of Durham. It was founded in 1888 for students who were not attached to the existing colleges...
, Durham University
The University of Durham, commonly known as Durham University, is a university in Durham, England. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837...
and began a publishing career in 1967. He worked as a picture researcher for Man, Myth & Magic and a researcher/writer for Reader’s Digest
Reader's Digest is a general interest family magazine, published ten times annually. Formerly based in Chappaqua, New York, its headquarters is now in New York City. It was founded in 1922, by DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace...
Books and as European Correspondent for Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...
Books on their Wonders of Man series.
In 1973, with his friend Ian Grant, Russell Ash established the publishing company Ash & Grant, that ran for five years. He was also a director of Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd is a British publisher of fiction and reference books. It is a division of the Orion Publishing Group.-History:...
in 1980–1983, where he worked with authors including comedian Barry Humphries
John Barry Humphries, AO, CBE is an Australian comedian, satirist, dadaist, artist, author and character actor, best known for his on-stage and television alter egos Dame Edna Everage, a Melbourne housewife and "gigastar", and Sir Les Patterson, Australia's foul-mouthed cultural attaché to the...
(aka Dame Edna Everage
Dame Edna is a character created and played by Australian dadaist performer and comedian, Barry Humphries, famous for her lilac-coloured or "wisteria hue" hair and cat eye glasses or "face furniture," her favorite flower, the gladiola and her boisterous greeting: "Hello Possums!" As Dame Edna,...
), and Pavilion Books in 1984–1988, where he published works by satirist John Wells
John Wells was an English actor, writer and satirist, educated at Eastbourne College and St Edmund Hall, Oxford...
David Hockney, CH, RA, is an English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer, who is based in Bridlington, Yorkshire and Kensington, London....
Posters and numerous other illustrated books. However, his principal occupation has been that of freelance author, having written or contributed to over a hundred non-fiction books.
He was married to Caroline Ash, fundraiser with the Malaria Consortium
Malaria Consortium is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to controlling malaria and other communicable diseases in Africa and Asia...
, and has a daughter and two sons. He lived in Lewes
Lewes is the county town of East Sussex, England and historically of all of Sussex. It is a civil parish and is the centre of the Lewes local government district. The settlement has a history as a bridging point and as a market town, and today as a communications hub and tourist-oriented town...
, East Sussex, from 1991 up to his death from a heart attack.
Russell Ash has written for both adults and children on a diverse range of subjects, including reference, art, history, biography and humour. 'Top 10 of Everything
', probably his best-known work, has been published annually since 1989 and was the basis of a children’s TV series broadcast on ITV in 1998–2001. Related books – The Top 10 of Sport, The Top 10 of Music, The Top 10 of Film, Top 10 for Men, Top 10 of Britain and others – have been issued at intervals. Formerly published by Dorling Kindersley, Top 10 of Everything has been published by Hamlyn
Hamlyn is a UK publishing company founded by Paul Hamlyn in 1950 with an initial investment of £350. His desire was to create "fine books with the common touch" which remains the foundation of its commercial success...
since 2006 and also appears in a number of translations.
The art books Russell Ash wrote during the 1990s include titles on the Pre-Raphaelites, the Impressionists and their contemporaries: Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa or simply Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an œuvre of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern...
, James Tissot
James Jacques Joseph Tissot was a French painter, who spent much of his career in Britain.-Biography:Tissot was born in Nantes, France. In about 1856, he began study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Hippolyte Flandrin and Lamothe, and became friendly with Edgar Degas and James Abbott...
, Sir Edward Burne-Jones
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet was a British artist and designer closely associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who worked closely with William Morris on a wide range of decorative arts as a founding partner in Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, and Company...
, Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, and was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement,...
, Lord Leighton and Sir John Everett Millais.
He compiled a range of illustrated information books for children, including Incredible Comparisons (1996), The World in One Day (1997), The Factastic Book of 1001 Lists (1998), Factastic Millennium Facts (1999) and Great Wonders of the World (2000), all of which were published by Dorling Kindersley and internationally in numerous editions.
He was the co-author (with Brian Lake) of Fish Who Answer the Telephone and Other Bizarre Books (2006). Among his other recent publications are Whitaker’s World of Facts (annual 2005–; published in North America as Firefly’s World of Facts), Potty, Fartwell & Knob: Extraordinary but True Names of British People (2007; expanded paperback 2008; US edition as Morecock, Fartwell, & Hoare, 2009), Busty, Slag and Nob End (2009) and Big Pants, Burpy and Bumface (2009).
He was a contributor to a number of annual publications, including Whitaker's Almanack
Whitaker's Almanack is a reference book, published annually in the United Kingdom. The book was originally published by J Whitaker & Sons from 1868 to 1997, then by The Stationery Office, from 2003 to 2010 by A & C Black and from 2011 by .-Content:...
and Children's Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and an occasional journalist, with articles published in most UK national newspapers.
On 7 April 2008, he took part in BBC2
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...
’s University Challenge
University Challenge is a British quiz programme that has aired since 1962. The format is based on the American show College Bowl, which ran on NBC radio from 1953 to 1957, and on NBC television from 1959 to 1970....
: The Professionals, in the team representing the Society of Authors
The Society of Authors is a trade union for professional writers that was founded in 1884 to protect the rights of writers and fight to retain those rights .It has counted amongst its members and presidents numerous notable writers and poets including Tennyson The Society of Authors (UK) is a...
, which also comprised Antony Beevor
Antony James Beevor, FRSL is a British historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous military historian John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission...
(captain), Katie Fforde
Katie Fforde, née Catherine Rose Gordon-Cumming , is a British romance novelist since 1995.She is founder of the Katie Fforde Bursary for writers who have yet to secure a publishing contract...
and Anna Claybourne.
- Alma-Tadema (1973) ISBN 978-0-85263-237-6
- Alma-Tadema (catalogue of the Funt
Allen Funt was an American television producer, director and writer, television personality, best known as the creator and host of Candid Camera from the 1940s to 1980s, as either a regular television show or a television series of specials...
- Victorian Studio Photographs (with Bevis Hillier
Bevis Hillier is an English art historian, author and journalist. He has written on Art Deco, and also a biography of Sir John Betjeman.-Life and work:...
et al.) (1975) ISBN 978-0-904069-03-7
- The Impressionists and their Art (1980) ISBN 978-0-85613-292-6
- Selections from the Reader’s Digest Collection (1986)
- Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1989) ISBN 978-1-85145-422-8
- Toulouse-Lautrec: The Complete Posters (1991) ISBN 978-1-85145-517-1
- The Impressionists’ River (1992) ISBN 978-1-85145-512-6
- Van Gogh’s Provence (1992) ISBN 978-1-85145-507-2
- James Tissot (1992) ISBN 978-1-85145-741-0
- Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1993) ISBN 978-1-85793-017-7
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1995) ISBN 978-1-85793-412-0
- Impressionists’ Seasons (1995) ISBN 978-1-85793-628-5
- Lord Leighton (1995) ISBN 978-1-85793-732-9
- Sir John Everett Millais (1996) ISBN 978-1-85793-792-3
- Victorian Masters and their Art (1999) ISBN 978-1-86205-304-5
Biography and history
- Highwaymen (1970) ISBN 978-0-85263-101-0
- Britain’s Buried Treasures (1972) ISBN 978-0-903356-17-6
- Wrecks & Sunken Treasure (1972) ISBN 978-0-903356-04-6
- Comets (with Ian Grant) (1973) ISBN 978-0-904069-00-6
- The Wright Brothers (1974) ISBN 978-0-85340-342-5
- Dear Cats: The Post Office Letters (1986) ISBN 978-1-85145-085-5
- Highwaymen (revised edition) (1994) ISBN 978-0-7478-0260-0
- Great Wonders of the World (2000) ISBN 978-0-7513-2886-8
- Dead Funny (with Ian Grant) (1974) ISBN 978-0-904069-02-0
- The Cynic’s Dictionary (1984) ISBN 978-0-552-99052-3
- The Official British Yuppie Handbook (1984) ISBN 978-0-906710-56-2
- Last Laughs (with Ian Grant) (1984) ISBN 978-0-04-827123-5
- Bizarre Books (with Brian Lake) (1985) ISBN 978-0-333-38312-4
- Howlers (1985) ISBN 978-0-906710-73-9
- They Didn’t Really Mean It (1987) ISBN 978-0-552-13319-7
- I’ll Drink to That (1987, with Bernard Higton) ISBN 978-0-552-13318-0
- Private Parts (1987, with Bernard Higton) ISBN 978-0-552-13317-3
- The Uncensored Boy’s Own (1990, as ‘Dick Beresford’) ISBN 978-0-356-19508-7
- The Uncensored Guide to the Movies (1991, as ‘Dick Beresford’) ISBN 978-0-356-20306-5
- Henry & Caroline At Home (with Joanna Isles) (1990) ISBN 978-1-85145-358-0
- Tall Stories (1994) ISBN 978-1-85410-335-2
- Bizarre Books (with Brian Lake; new edition) (1998) ISBN 978-1-86205-102-7
- Fish Who Answer the Telephone and other Bizarre Books (with Brian Lake) (2006) ISBN 978-0-7195-6018-7
- Potty, Fartwell & Knob (2007) ISBN 978-0-7553-1654-0; expanded paperback (2008) ISBN 978-0-7553-1655-7; US (as Morecock, Fartwell, & Hoare) (2009) ISBN 978-0-312-54535-2
- Busty, Slag and Nob End (2009) ISBN 978-0-7553-1870-4
- Big Pants, Burpy and Bumface (2009) ISBN 978-0-385-61723-9
- It Just Slipped Out... A Bulging Encyclopedia of Double Entendres (2010) ISBN 978-0-7553-6086-4.
Literature and language
- The Vampyre: A Tale by John William Polidori
John William Polidori was an English writer and physician of Italian descent. He is known for his associations with the Romantic movement and credited by some as the creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction. His most successful work was the 1819 short story, The Vampyre, the first vampire...
(introduction) (1974) ISBN 978-0-85263-244-4
- Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense (introduction) (1980) ISBN 978-0-460-04499-8
- Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (Lewis Carroll; introduction) (1985) ISBN 978-0-907516-94-1
- The Life and Times of Paddington Bear (with Michael Bond
Thomas Michael Bond, OBE is an English author, most celebrated for his Paddington Bear series of books.-Life:Bond was educated at Presentation College, a Catholic school in Reading...
) (1988) ISBN 978-1-85145-286-6
- Larkrise to Candleford Diary (1989)
- A Dictionary of RAF Slang (Eric Partridge
Eric Honeywood Partridge was a New Zealand/British lexicographer of the English language, particularly of its slang. His writing career was interrupted only by his service in the Army Education Corps and the RAF correspondence department during World War II...
; introduction) (1990) ISBN 978-1-85145-526-3
Reference and trivia
- Fact or Fiction? (1973) ISBN 978-0-276-00043-0
- Talking about the Family (1973) ISBN 978-0-85340-266-4
- Talking about Race (1974) ISBN 978-0-85340-356-2
- The Pig Book (1985) ISBN 978-0-85223-417-4
- The Londoner’s Almanac (1985) ISBN 978-0-7126-0928-9
- The Frog Book (1986) ISBN 978-0-356-12305-9
- The Daily Trivia Diary ’87 (1986)
- Top 10 of Everything (annual; 1989–2009) ISBN 978-0-600-61742-6 (UK); ISBN 978-0-600-62048-8 (US) (latest edition)
- The Top 10 of Sport (with Ian Morrison) (1992) ISBN 978-0-7472-0714-6
- The Top 10 of Music (with Luke Crampton and Barry Lazell) (1993) ISBN 978-0-7472-0798-6
- Top 10 Quiz Book (1996) ISBN 978-0-7513-5443-0
- Incredible Comparisons (1996) ISBN 978-0-7513-5421-8
- Crucial Top 10 (1997) ISBN 978-1-86208-214-4
- The World in One Day (1997) ISBN 978-0-7513-5618-2
- Factastic Book of 1001 Lists (1998) ISBN 978-0-7513-5799-8
- Factastic Book of Comparisons (1999) ISBN 978-0-7513-6208-4
- Factastic Millennium Facts (1999) ISBN 978-0-7513-5663-2
- The Top 10 of Sport (with Ian Morrison; new edition) (2002) ISBN 978-0-7513-4642-8
- The Top 10 of Film (2003) ISBN 978-1-4053-0050-6
- Whitaker’s World of Facts (annual; 2005–2008) ISBN 978-1-4081-1506-0 (UK); US (as Firefly’s Book of Facts) ISBN 978-1-55407-499-0 (latest edition)
- Top 10 for Men (2008) ISBN 978-0-600-61817-1
- Top 10 of Britain (2009) ISBN 978-0-600-61921-5
- Top 10 of Football (with Ian Morrison) (2010) ISBN 978-0-600-62067-9