London: A reclusive former maths teacher has become one of the most successful British authors of the decade outselling bestsellers such as John Grisham, Terry Pratchett and Bill Bryson.
Only JK Rowling, Jamie Oliver, children's author Jacqueline Wilson and Dan Brown have sold more books than scholarship-boy-turned-multimillionaire Richard Parsons.
Parsons, 43, made his fortune from revision guides for children, which he started writing in 1995. Initially he gave them away.
In the past ten years his company, CGP Publications, based in Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria, is estimated to have generated £48.3 million (Dh289 million) by selling more than 9.3 million books.
His mother, former teacher Heather Parsons, said: "He thought it was very funny when he found out that he was being put in the same bracket as J.K. Rowling and John Grisham.
"He said, ‘Mum, I can't believe it. I never realised I was a top author. I don't even write novels.'
"He's got to the top by hard graft. There are no yachts, no fancy cars and no luxury holidays. Success hasn't changed him one bit."
Parsons, whose father is a dentist, went to Ulverston Victoria High School before gaining a First in Physics at Oxford University.
Robin Devenish, his professor, said: "You could see he was very determined. He is a good pianist and when he got to Oxford he said his ambition was to buy a grand piano. He spent the next three years living on porridge cooked in his room. He did buy the grand piano in his final year, so his success has not been a complete surprise."
On graduating, Parsons returned to Cumbria and taught maths at Furness College in Barrow. His mother said: "He realised the revision books for children were not up to much. He wrote his first revision book for maths in his bedroom. The strength of his books lies in their humour and simplicity."