I am an environmental writer and historian, with a particular interest in the cultural cross-currents that flow between the sciences and the humanities. I was born in 1965 and grew up in Truro, Cornwall; Kingston, Jamaica; and Hastings, East Sussex (my adopted father was a fisheries biologist – hence the maritime locations).
I was educated at the Universities of Essex and Cambridge, where I wrote a doctoral dissertation on eighteenth-century topographical and geological writing. My books include The Invention of Clouds, which won the 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; Terra: Tales of the Earth, a collection of stories about natural disasters; and The Cloud Book and Extraordinary Clouds, both published in association with the (UK) Met Office. Data Soliloquies (2010) is a collection of essays and artworks on the theme of visualising climate change, that I co-wrote and designed with the digital artist, Martin John Callanan, during our terms as writer and artist in residence at the UCL Environment Institute.
My most recent book is The Art of Science, an anthology of great science writing (and great writing about science) from the Babylonians to the Higgs boson, published in Picador paperback in October 2012. I have also written for a variety of newspapers and magazines, and have so far added most of my articles and reviews to this site – but you honestly don’t have to read them all. . .
I am currently a lecturer in creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London, and am working on a book of (mostly) true stories about (mostly) made-up landscapes.