“Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge.” said Leonardo da Vinci, and here on this website I hope to quietly introduce you to some of my work as a writer – of books, plays and music. Some of it is simply a catalogue, a rundown of the books I have written, the songs and plays that have made it into the world. But there are other things here simply to be discovered, such as my occasional podcast The Thinking Cap.
“John Farndon is committed to the idea that 'the proper study of mankind is Man’”
Michael Douglas Porter, Amazon review of ‘The World’s Greatest Idea’
“John Farndon’s book celebrates being 'clever' in its widest possible sense, championing the free thinker, the alternative, the individual, the power of deep thought.”
Judges Comments, Society of Authors Education Award, 2010 on “Do You Think You’re Clever”
This year, I'm working on a translation of a key novel from Russian by a contemporary Kazakh author, poems by Russian poet Lidia Grigorieva, and Kazakh poet Galym Mutanov, as well as The Sovet Girl by Tatyana Moskvina
From Samurai to the mysteries of the body
18 children's books for various publishers on subjects such as how to live like a Samurai or an Aztec Priest, how clever animals are, how the body works and looking for rocks.
Poems by Lidia Grigorieva and The Road Goes God Knows Where by Ravil Bukharaev
John is following up with further translations from Russian of his acclaimed translation with Olga Nakston of award-winning the late Russian Tatar author Ravil Bukharaev’s poetic novel memoir Letters to Another Room
“Ravil Bukharaev is an astonishing writer and, in John Farndon, he has found a translator whose empathy with his subject is so complete that the two become one. The intellectual and moral integrity is profoundly affecting. Letters to Another Room is beautifully written in sentences that sing with originality of thought and clarity of meaning. It is masterly in conception and in realisation." Jonathan Dimbleby
"Ravil Bukharaev and his translator, his co-author, his co-creator and co-dramatist John Farndon…two poets coming together, their strong, beautiful voices mingling, fusing and merging in this wonderful book" Andrei Ostalski, BBC Russian service and New Statesman
A series of evenings of music, poetry and ideas that stirs together a wonderful mix of incredibly talented people in the cosy upstairs lounge of the Hemingford Arms
A story for young and old about the whisperers, special magical beings whose task is to spread knowledge, and their secret battle with The Obscurants, the dark forces who enslave us all by hiding the truth.
How our world and our very understanding of our human nature has fallen thrall to powerful ideas that very few of us actually know anything about, let alone challenge - ideas rooted in the notion, first developed by mathematicians working for the American military in the 1950s, of ‘rational choice theory’.
My book Project Body is on the shortlist for the Royal Society Young People's book prize 2016.
Amazing trip to Kazakhstan, thanks to the great Kazakh writer Rollan Sesyenbaev, including celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of poet al-Farabi and journeying across the steppes where Chingis Khan raised his army to the last remote home of the great Kazakh poet Abai.
My song Peace in my Heart with Dave Swarbrick and Kelvin Thomson on Folkstock's The Christmas Present is getting played on Dave Chamberlain's show on Blues and Roots, and Pete Englefield's country show. I just uploaded a live version. There's a couple of other versions on YouTube. This with Siri on vocals, and this with me and Eliza S
A selection of my lyric poems is being translated into Kazakh and Russian for publication next spring.
Absurdly complementary review in Kirkus of my children's books on megafast vehicles. "An insanely joyful collection of - well call them electricifying biographies of very fast trucks...With considerable panache, Farndon bestows these beasts with their own brand of beauty."
Merry Christmas to all!!!
The paperback version of Do You Still Think You're Clever? is out, retitled So You Think You're Clever? It's also out in Korea and Turkey. I just did a long interview with Korea's leading newspaper Chosun daily about it.
The Sherlock Holmes Book and The Movie Book are out and nicely received.
Great reviews for my libretto for La Boheme, 'superb, contemporary English libretto' (London Theatre), 'a fine job' (idncard), 'a sharp new translation' (Plays to See) and in British Theatre, 'the production scores a palpable hit with John Farndon’s witty, slightly knowing, but entirely plausible contemporary translation' and 'there are some very funny episodes in this production, and they take their origin from the brio and sheer quality of the writing.'
My new libretto for Puccini's La Boheme is opening at the Arcola on 4th August as part of the Grimeborn Festival
I'm performing science stories for children at the Moscow Polytech festival, with music by Natali Drosou, with additional music by Petr Theremin and Rebecca Moloney
The Shakespeare Book (Dorling Kindersley) has come out. Stanley Wells was consultant and I wrote about half of it.
Working on The Sherlock Holmes book for Dorling Kindersley and The Movie Book
The Sunday Times selected The Christmas Present featuring my song with Dave Swarbrick as one of their essential albums for Christmas - along with Robbie Williams and Leonard Cohen! "Dave Swarbrick, a member of folk's old guard, helps out on John Farndon's elegiac 'Peace in My Heart', There isn't a weak link to be found" Clive Davis.
Danny Farragher on Folk-All describes it as 'a really thought-provoking ballad that does have the feel of a hybrid between a carol and a traditional music hall song.'
I talk at the Camden School for Girls Literary Festival
I start at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge as Royal Literary Fellow, giving advice on writing to students
John's translations with Olga Nakston of poems by Lidia Grigorieva will be published by Glagoslav
John's recording of his song 'Peace in My Heart' is selected by the legendary folk fiddler Dave Swarbrick for Folkstock's Passing the Baton EP to launched in 5th April, with a fabulous violin line added by Dave himself. "...it's a masterpiece" (Dave Swarbrick)
Passing the Baton gets a great review in Fatea.
John will sing the song on the last date of Dave Swarbrick's tour, 24th May at Harpenden Public Halls.
Do You Still Think You're Clever? a sequel to the best-selling Do You Think You're Clever? commissioned by Icon Books
The Cauldron series of magical evenings of ideas, music and poetry continues
John is invited to present three of his translations of Lydia Grigorieva's poems at the Festival La Lyre émigrée in Liege in Belgium: Lydia Grigorieva will read translations of three of John's poems into Russianeee
John is interviewed at various locations about Victorian master criminal Adam Worth for a Pioneer TV documentary on Scotland Yard.
John is acclaimed for his readings of his translations with Olga Nakston of celebrated Russian poet Lydia Grigorieva
The World's Greatest Idea reaches no.7 on the Amazon UK Kindle chart.
Do You Think You’re Clever? is selected as Apple iTunes/Starbucks book of the week, w/c 2nd July.
Peace in my heart hits 10,000 views on YouTube
Discover the Extreme World is one of four books on the Blue Peter Book Awards 2012 shortlist
“Do You Think You’re Clever?” returns to number 1 on Germany's kindle charts
March 2012: The World's Greatest Idea is number 1 Germany's kindle chart
John Farndon's translation of Spanish Golden Age playwright Lope de Vega's play El Perro del Hortelano ('Dog in a Manger') is featured on the new 'Out of the Wings' website. Another (La Dama Boba - 'Mad for Love') will appear soon
Featured books and songs
The World’s Greatest Idea
"writing that is both witty and insightful. As a history buff, I enjoyed this book immensely..."
Myles Gough, Cosmos science magazine, Australia
This Baby Sleeps
“My personal favourite though has to be the John Farndon song, This Baby Sleeps: a stunningly tender and luxurious song, with beautiful piano accompaniments and what is undoubtedly Whitefield’s best vocal.”