Tom Sharpe was born in 1928 and educated at Lancing College and Pembroke College, Cambridge. He did his national service in the Marines before moving to South Africa in 1951, where he did social work before teaching in Natal. He had a photographic studio in Pietermaritzburg from 1957 until 1961, and from 1963 to 1972 he was a lecturer in History at the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology.
He is the author of sixteen bestselling novels, including Porterhouse Blue and Blott on the Landscape, which were serialised on television, and Wilt, which was made into a film. In 1986 he was awarded the XXIIIème Grand Prix de l'Humour Noir Xavier Forneret, and in 2010 he was awarded the inaugural BBK La Risa de Bilbao Prize. Tom Sharpe died in June 2013 at his home in northern Spain.