My aim is to enable leaps forward in knowledge and wisdom via information found in existing books.

This website began as the companion to my first book 50 Self-Help Classics, presenting versions of commentaries that appear in the book. Since then, the site has expanded to include material adapted from subsequent titles in the 50 Classics series.

The 50 Classics concept is based on the idea that every subject or genre will contain at least 50 books that encapsulate its knowledge and wisdom. By creating a list of those landmark or representative titles, then providing commentaries that note the key points and assess the importance of each work, awareness of these key writings is spread to readers who may not otherwise have known of their existence.

50 Self-Help Classics was initially released only in Australia in 2001, then in the UK, US and rest of the world in 2003 by Nicholas Brealey Publishing. 50 Self-Help Classics has been translated into 15 languages. In 2004 it won the US Benjamin Franklin Award, and was a finalist in Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year awards.

My second book, 50 Success Classics (2004), covers the landmark works of motivation, prosperity and leadership. Rights have been sold in 13 languages. The third, 50 Spiritual Classics (2005) explores some of the famous writings and authors in personal awakening, and has been translated into 12 languages.

50 Psychology Classics was released in 2007 and has been translated into 14 languages

The last two titles in the series have been 50 Prosperity Classics and 50 Philosophy Classics.

All works are available in audio format from Audible.com (see links on homepage) and in paperback and Kindle.

Here is an interview with the First Friday book synopsis club that looks at the 50 Classics series in some depth.


In the early 1990s, I was working as an adviser at the New South Wales Cabinet Office in Sydney, writing briefing papers for senior ministers. I took a year off to do further study in the UK, but put aside my political economy textbooks to read a growing pile of motivational and self-help literature. On returning to Australia, I spent some time in the Outback, where the idea came to me of writing about the classic books in the self-help literature.

Based in Oxford, UK, I now write full-time, run Butler-Bowdon.com, and do occasional speaking engagements.

I have a BA (Hons) degree in Politics and History from the University of Sydney, and a Masters degree in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics.

Any comments or questions relating to my work or to this website are welcomed. See the Contacts page.


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