A New Zealand-educated Harvard professor has signed a publishing deal to write a new book on Bob Dylan.

University of Auckland PhD graduate Richard F. Thomas, a world-renowned Dylanologist and expert on classical Roman and Greek poets, has been signed by Dey Street Books to write, Why Dylan Matters.

The legendary singer-songwriter behind such generational-spanning mega-hits as Blowin' In The Wind, Like A Rolling Stone, and The Times They Are A-Changin', was a controversial winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.

But Thomas appears to be a perfect fit to write a book on Dylan's importance to literature, music, art and popular culture.


London-born Thomas teaches a freshman course on Dylan at the Ivy League university, which aims to put the notoriously reclusive artist's impressive canon in a historical context.

The book, publishers say, sets out with a similar aim: "For why the words and lyrics of Dylan endure and inspire generations, exploring Dylan's music through the lens of popular culture, Western literature, and in the tradition of classical poets like Virgil and Homer, and decoding and contextualising Dylan's lyrics for a new generation of fans."

"I don't see any difference between a poet like Catullus or Virgil and Bob Dylan," Thomas told the New York Times last month.

"I think they are doing the same things. It has to do with control of language, connecting of lyrics and melodies. That's what makes it timeless."