Claire Tomalin was born in London in 1933 to a French father and an English mother, the composer Muriel Herbert. She read English at Cambridge, graduated from Newnham College in 1954 and is now an Honorary Fellow of the college. She worked in publishing and journalism, becoming Literary Editor of the New Statesman and later the Sunday Times before devoting herself to writing full time in the late 1980s. Her books include Shelley and His World (Thames & Hudson) 1980; Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life (Viking) 1987; The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (Viking) 1990; Mrs Jordan's Profession (Viking) 1994; Jane Austen: A Life (Viking) 1997; Several Strangers: Writing from Three Decades (Viking) 1999; Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (Viking) 2002; Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man (Viking) 2006; Charles Dickens: A Life (Viking) 2011. Her first husband, the journalist Nicholas Tomalin, was killed reporting the Yom Kippur war in 1973. She has three children and three grandchildren. She has honorary doctorates from the following universities: Cambridge, UEA, Birmingham, The Open University, Greenwich, Goldsmiths and Roehampton. She is married to the playwright and novelist Michael Frayn.