John Farndon

Writer of books, plays and songs

Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledgesaid 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.


“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 ?”



Atlas of Oceans is a celebration of Earth’s vibrant and awe-inspiring oceans and seas and an urgent call to action to protect one of our planet’s most vital resources.

“Atlas of Oceans is a magnificent work in every respect…this volume does for oceanography (in a wider sense than this word suggests) what Carl Sagan did for cosmology… a highly important work”

Harm de Blij, John A. Hannah


 “…a lavishly illustrated and passionate work that aims to provide a sort of maritime health report, setting out the richness of ocean and our dependence upon the future health of the sea. Well written and superbly illustrated…pulls no punches”

Nautilus International

 “A brilliant, lavishly illustrated and timely account of the evolution of the world’s marine bodies of water and the ecological disaster that is unfolding underneath, within and around them. Skillfully written for a general audience, the book reminds us we cannot survive without healthy seas, and delivers a persuasive wake-up call.”

Canada Globe and Mail, Top Ten Science & Nature Book of the Year



What books are bad for you? Is feminism dead?Every year many interviewees for Oxford and Cambridge colleges are posed such curious conundrums. Providing responses to 60 of these infamously perplexing problems, This is a book for everyone who likes to think they’re clever, or who thinks they’d like to be clever.

Simultaneously No 1 ebook on Amazon in UK and Germany
Top ten bestselling books in South Africa, Korea, Turkey, top 25 UK, Romania
Shortlisted Society of Authors Education Award, 2010


 “Questions and answers from Oxbridge entrance exams that has been a real hit with students and tourists alike. It outsold all fiction titles as well last year.”

Broad Conversation, Oxford Blackwell

“Farndon’s astute treatment of this simple, hypothetical, almost the kind you asked after several pints in a pub, question was immense fun to read and surprisingly inspirational.

Forlorn Hope, Ops-Centre

“A wonderful collection of oddly brilliant questions and answers taken from the infamously challenging Oxbridge interviews.”

Vahshatedul’s Blog, A surfeit of reading


translated by Donald Rayfield (prose) & John Farndon (verse)

Winner of the EBRD Literature Prize 2019, this is the first novel written in Uzbek to be translated into English. Rosie Goldsmith, Chair of the EBRD prize judges, says “This is a thrilling novel about two real-life Central Asian poets”. 


The translation by Donald Rayfield and John Farndon is a landmark achievement, teeming with poetry which illuminates not just the narrative unfolding on the page, but an array of underrepresented cultures dotted along the Silk Road.

Ted Hodgkinson, Riveting Reviews

“A landmark Uzbek novel – a lost novel about a 19th century slave girl, and the fate of its real-life author who was imprisoned under Stalin, are reimagined with powerful results.”

The Guardian

“The Devils’ Dance defies description… The novel is packed with poetry. [and] Translating Uzbek poetry into a readable English equivalent is quite an extraordinary achievement.”

The Asian Review

“The Devils’ Dance” [is] a beguiling novel of sinister enchantments and mind-stretching affinities”

The Economist

“John Farndon’s efforts rather puts the lie to Samuel Johnson’s famous edict that “Poetry, indeed, cannot be translated.”

Paul Fulcher, Good Read.


Forlorn Hope, Ops-Centre

“A wonderful collection of oddly brilliant questions and answers taken from the infamously challenging Oxbridge interviews.”

Vahshatedul’s Blog, A surfeit of reading

Songs and Poems

Everybody says

by John Farndon | sung by Kim Lowings

The Silence Ends – A Chorus of Voices


The Dead Wander in the Desert

by Rollan Seisenbaev, translated by John Farndon with Olga Nakston

From Kazakhstan’s most celebrated author comes his powerful and timely English-language debut about a fisherman’s struggle to save the Aral Sea, and its way of life, from man-made ecological disaster.

Bird’s Eye View

by John Farndon, illustrated by Paul Boston words & pictures (July, 2019)

Get ready for the journey of a lifetime… up in the sky! Bird’s Eye View: The Natural World takes you on an amazing, fact-filled aerial journey around the world with stunning views of its landscapes, and the animals and plants that live in them. Three of the twelve soaring panoramas fold out on each side to create fabulous double-wide vistas.


A new collaboration with four of John Farndon’s songs arranged and performed by Kim Lowings.

Meet John

23rd November, 2019

Warren Wills & Friends

Music with West End stars, featuring John Farndon and other members of Earth Ensemble with music and words highlight the clmate crisis.

15th November, 2019

Author Talk at Open Central Asia Book Forum & Literature Festival

John Farndon will be the speaker at the 8th annual festival in Brussels.

16th October, 2019

Frankfurt Book Fair

John will be appearing on a panel addressing ‘Publishing and the Climate Crisis’ which explores the climate crisis from several angles in publishing.

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