Evelyn Waugh was born in London in 1903. After reading Modern History at Hertford College, Oxford, he worked briefly as a schoolteacher, and in 1928 published Decline and Fall. During the 1930s he travelled widely in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, writing the novels Vile Bodies, Black Mischief and Scoop and confirming his reputation as one of the finest writers of his generation. Ninety-Two Days came out of his journey to British Guiana and Brazil in 1933 and 1934, which also gave him some of the raw material for A Handful of Dust. In 1939 he volunteered for the Royal Marines, later transferring to the Royal Horse Guards, and in 1942 published Put Out More Flags. He served in Crete and Yugoslavia, correcting the proofs of Brideshead Revisited while attached to Tito's partisans in Croatia. His novels about the Second World War, Men at Arms, Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender, were subsequently published as The Sword of Honour trilogy. He died in 1966.
Pauline Melville's first book, Shape-Shifter, won the Guardian Fiction Prize, a Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Macmillan Silver Pen Award, while The Ventriloquist's Tale received the Whitbread First Novel Prize. She has also won the Guyana Prize for Literature.