Published in two volumes in 1901, Charles Harper provides a history of the road as he journeys its length. It is well illustrated with both the author’s own sketches and various old prints and pictures. Full of anecdotes, it’s an easy read.
In the preface to the 1922 edition Harper looks back on the changes of the preceding 20 years:
For motor-cars were still, really, in more or less of an experimental stage; and on any long journey you were never sure of finishing by car what you had begun. Also, the speed possible was not great enough to render such a long journey exhilarating to modern ideas. ….. To-day, all that is changed. Every summer, every autumn, sees large numbers of touring automobiles on the way to Scotland and the moors, filled with those who prefer the road, on such terms, to the railway. From being something in the nature of a lonely highway, the Great North Road has thus become a very much travelled one.
This book is widely available as a modern re-print as well as online