Miguel De Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra lived an unsettled life of hardship and adventure. After studying in Madrid (1568-69), he took part in the sea battle at Lepanto (1571) and in 1575 he was captured by pirates. Cervantes spent five years as a slave until his family could raise enough money to pay his ransom. His first play, LOS TRATOS DE ARGEL (1580), was based on his experiences as a Moorish captive. During the next 20 years he led a nomadic existence, also working as a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada and a tax collector. He suffered a bankruptcy and was imprisoned at least twice, and wrote DON QUIXOTE in prison.
Walter De La Mare
Walter de la Mare (1873-1956) was an English poet, short story writer and novelist, probably best remembered for his works for children and the poem The Listeners. He was also a significant writer of subtle psychological horror and ghost stories. His novel, Memoirs of a Midget won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1921. He was made a Companion of Honour in 1948 and received the Order of Merit in 1953.
Charles Dickens, whose pen name was Boz, is regarded by many as one of the world's greatest authors. His father, a navy clerk, was - like the fathers in many of Dickens' novels - constantly in and out of debtor's prison, and Dickens was sent to work in a blacking factory at the age of twelve. His parents' failure to educate him was a source of great bitterness to him, and he reacted to this indifference by working incredibly hard for his entire life. Beginning as an office boy in a lawyer's office, in time he became a parliamentary reporter and then a journalist. He wrote The Pickwick Papers at the age of twenty-four, and captured the popular imagination in a way no other novelist had done previously. He continued writing and reading his works in public until his sudden death in 1870.
Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. In 1824, his father was imprisoned for debt, so Charles was sent to work in a shoe-dye factory. He later became a clerk in a law firm, a shorthand reporter in the courts, and a parliamentary and newspaper reporter. In 1833, Dickens began to contribute short stories and essays to periodicals, heralding the start of a glittering and prolific literary career. He married Catherine Hogarth in 1836, with whom he had nine surviving children before they separated in 1858. Dickens died suddenly at home on June 9, 1870, leaving behind an internationally acclaimed canon of work, including Oliver Twist (1837), Nicholas Nickleby (1838), David Copperfield (1849-50), Bleak House (1852-53), Little Dorrit (1855-57), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860-61) and Our Mutual Friend (1864-65). He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Michael Slater is Professor of Victorian Literature at Birkbeck College in the University of London. He was editor of The Dickensian (1968-77) and President of the International Dickens Fellowship (1988-90). He has published many books and articles on Dickens.
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a doctor by trade; optician more specifically. It is rumoured that during his off periods of work he would think about and write his various stories. He is well known for several science fiction works, but of course his most recognizable works are the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. He died in 1930.He tried desperately to "kill off" Holmes so that he could pursue other genres of writing as well, and not just be known for the Holmes mysteries. However, after much public outcry, Holmes returned in "The Empty House" and in many other stories following, up to the "Case Book of Sherlock Holmes" collection.
Daphne Du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier (1907-89) was born in London, the daughter of the famous actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and granddaughter of George du Maurier, the author and artist. In 1931 her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published. A biography of her father and three other novels followed, but it was the novel Rebecca that launched her into the literary stratosphere and made her one of the most popular authors of her day. In 1932, du Maurier married Major Frederick Browning, with whom she had three children.Many of du Maurier's bestselling novels and short stories were adapted into award-winning films, including Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. In 1969 du Maurier was awarded a DBE. She lived most of her life in Cornwall, the setting for many of her books.
Daphne Du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier (1907-89) was born in London and educated at home and in Paris. She lived most of her life in her beloved Cornwall, the setting for most of her novels.
Sarah Dunant is the author of six crime novels for which she won two Silver Daggers. Cultural commentator - for many years she presented The Late Show - she was editor of War of the Words (Virago 1994). Her two previous novels, Transgressions and Mapping the Edge, were the subject of major acclaim.
Elaine Dundy was born in New York. As an actress she worked in Paris and London and then became a writer. She has written plays, biographies and novels including the bestselling THE DUD AVOCADO, her first novel.