The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways was written by the Rev. W. Awdry and his brother George Awdry and illustrated by Clive Spong. It was first published in 1987 as a hardcover book, and was reprinted in 1992 as a spiral-bound book with a map of Sodor.
This is a book about Sodor, dealing with its history, geography and industry in far greater depth than could ever be discussed in the Railway Series books themselves. Most of the background information on the places, people, railways and engines in the Railway Series comes from this book.
The book came about as a result of the Reverend W. Awdry's desire to create a credible and consistent world for his stories. This began with maps of Sodor, and was then expanded upon. Awdry and his brother George, who was the librarian of the National Liberal Club, worked out details of Sodor, producing between them a comprehensive set of notes. These notes were compiled and published in this book.
- There have been three Sir Topham Hatts: Sir Topham Hatt I, Sir Charles Topham Hatt and Stephen Topham Hatt.
- No. 5 of the Culdee Fell Railway's name is revealed to be Shane Dooiney.
- This book marks the second mention of the Coffee Pots. They were withdrawn shortly after Toby joined Thomas' Branch Line and were scrapped.
- The North Western Railway has at least eighty engines, the greater part of which are never documented in the Railway Series.
- The other engines from the S&MR are mentioned for the first time.
- The names of some of Sodor's kings are only mentioned in this book.
- Jock is revealed for the first time, but he made his first official appearance in Jock the New Engine.
- Sigrid of Arlesdale, the Blisters and Mark V are also revealed, though unlike Jock they wouldn't appear in future books.
- It is said that the Skarloey Railway Slate Quarry is now used as the Ministry of Defence Ammunition dump which is located there after closure. The Ministry also owns a black "Beetle-Like" engine which runs it.
- Stanley's name is revealed (he was referred as No. 2 in the book Duke the Lost Engine), and he was said to have been transfered to the Cas-ny-Hawin mine while he was still a pumping engine, where he broke down in 1946 and caused the Mid Sodor Railway to close.
This book has been out of print since 1992, making copies fairly expensive: some are available on Amazon for a minimum of $500 US. However, some information from this book was reprinted in Sodor: Reading Between the Lines.
There have been several letters to Heinemann, the original publishers, asking if the book could be republished. These have been unsuccessful.