Author Bill Bryson admires the view
Smitten by Durham
The bestselling author Bill Bryson called Durham a "perfect little city" and described the North East as "one of the friendliest corners of the planet".
Bill Bryson isn't always complimentary about the places he visits.
But Durham he likes.
So much so that he didn't hesitate in accepting the invitation to become Durham University's chancellor.
Bill Bryson at Durham University
In April 2005 he succeeded Sir Peter Ustinov, having already received an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree at the university. He said at the time of his appointment: "The north east of England really is delightfully friendly and I mean that most sincerely.
"Durham, I think, as anybody who has ever stepped out of the railway station and looked across the valley will appreciate, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
"The view of the cathedral is just absolutely stunning. I will never forget my first moment 30 years ago seeing it and it has been almost as exciting every time since.
"So there is all of that, a huge amount of history, a huge amount of beauty and a great deal of friendliness."
'I'm a stranger here myself'
Bill Bryson was born in America but, after some to-ing and fro-ing, has settled in England.
Backpacking brought him to England in 1973. He met his wife and stayed.
Durham, looking towards Elvet Bridge
In 1995 he decided his wife and children needed to experience America first hand but in 2003 they moved back to England, where they still live.
He became famous for one of his books, Notes From A Small Island, in which he sang the praises of Durham City.
He wrote: "If you have never been to Durham, go there at once. Take my car. It's wonderful."
Freeman of the City
On 2 March 2009 Bill was granted Freedom of the City in Durham and joins the list of Freemen which includes Sir Bobby Robson.
He is, however, the first American to be granted the award.
Watch the video and hear the BBC Newcastle feature of Bill Bryson receiving the award by clicking the links below:
last updated: 29/05/2009 at 17:16