The QI Book Of The Dead

Lives of the Justly Famous and the Undeservedly Obscure

The QI Book of the Dead is a book about life. Or more particularly lives. Perhaps the book with the most misleading title (it contains no references to zombies or Hallowe’en) -  we selected six dozen of the happiest, saddest, maddest and most successful men and women in history, from Jeremy Bentham to Leonardo da Vinci, and from Benjamin Franklin to Florence Nightingale.

The object was to learn something about what it means to be alive and how we might make the most of the time we have. We wanted to offer readers a chance to hang out with some seriously odd and wonderful people, to share their secrets, celebrate their wisdom, learn from their mistakes, and marvel at their bad taste in clothes.

Hans Christian Andersen was terrified of naked women.

Florence Nightingale spent the last 50 years of her life in bed.

The only love in the life of Nikola Tesla, inventor of radio, was a female pigeon.

Press Clippings

Dead good.

I enjoyed this book and its gossipy brio immensely.

Gloriously quirky. How many other books are there that mention that H. G. Wells slept with Nick Clegg's great-aunt, or that Salvador Dali spent most of his childhood deliberately annoying his father?


The man who is not dead still has a chance.

Catherine de Medici applied a daily face mask made of pigeon dung.

Before he started studying sex, Alfred Kinsey was the world expert on gall wasps.


What an awful thing life is. It's like soup with lots of hairs floating on the surface. You have to eat it nevertheless.