Ruth Padel was born in London in 1947 and educated at Oxford. She lived several years in Greece and worked as a Greek scholar before becoming a freelance writer. She has won the National Poetry Competition and published three books about reading modern poetry, most recently Silent Letters of the Alphabet. Other non-fiction includes I'm a Man, about rock music and Greek myth, and Tigers in Red Weather, a nature book and travel memoir about the years she spent searching for tigers in Asian jungles. She has published six collections of poems, most recently The Soho Leopard (2004), and her verse biography Darwin: A Life in Poems was shortlisted for the 2009 Costa Prize. Her first novel is Where the Serpent Lives.