Paula Byrne was born in Birkenhead and has a PhD from the University of Liverpool, where she is a Research Fellow in English Literature. Her first book, Jane Austen and the Theatre, was shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize. Her second book, Perdita: The Life of Mary Robinson , the tale of the scandalous star of the 18th-century stage, literature and high-society, was a Richard and Judy bookclub pick. Her most recent book is Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead. The story of Evelyn Waugh's friendship with the extraordinary aristocratic family who inspired Brideshead Revisited, it was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. A regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, she lives in Warwickshire with her two young children and her husband, the critic and biographer Jonathan Bate.