© Booker Foundation
I am a writer, historian and literary critic. I teach history and politics at Cambridge University, where I am a Lecturer and Fellow of Gonville & Caius College.
I was educated at St Bernard's Convent, Slough; Oxford University, Cambridge University and the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. I won a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2000.
My first book, "Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution" (Chatto & Windus, 2006; Metropolitan Books, 2006) won the Franco-British Society Literary Prize (2006), was shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize (2006), long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize (2007) and was listed among the 100 Best Books of the Decade in The Times in 2009. It has been translated into five languages.
My second book, John Aubrey: My own Life (Chatto & Windus, 2015; New York Review of Books, 2016) was shortlisted for the 2015 Costa Biography Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. It was chosen as a 2015 Book of the Year in fifteen newspapers and magazines, including: the Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Times, the Sunday Times, the Times Literary Supplement, the Sunday Express, the Guardian, the Spectator and the New Statesman. It was chosen as a 2016 Book of the Year by Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Review and the Washington Post.
I began reviewing regularly for The Times and the Times Literary Supplement in 1997. Since then I have also written for The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, The New Statesman, The London Review of Books, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, The New York Observer, The Guardian, The Spectator and The Wall Street Journal.
I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the Folio Prize Academy.
My interests include: 17th and 18th century history of ideas; biographical, autobiographical and life writing; the British and French Enlightenments; the French Revolution; Revolutionary Memoir; early Feminist Political Thought; and contemporary fiction in English.