Sarah Bakewell



United Kingdom

Sarah Bakewell unknots complex philosophical thought with verve and wit; her eye for detail and her animated conversation bring readers to inhabit the lives of great philosophers.

Born in 1963 in Bournemouth, England, Sarah Bakewell is the author of four works of nonfiction blending biography, memoir, and cultural history. Her first two books offer vivid portraits of individuals at the fringes of society: The Smart (2001) tells the true story of eighteenth-century criminal courtesan Margaret Caroline Rudd, while The English Dane (2005) considers the biography of Jørgen Jørgenson, a nineteenth-century Danish adventurer, political prisoner, and pamphleteer. More recently, Bakewell has turned her sharp gaze to the philosophers and poets at the center of Western culture. How to Live: A Life of Montaigne (2010), a biography of the Renaissance essayist Michel de Montaigne, was described as “brilliant and unconventional” by Kathryn Schulz in the Boston Globe and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography as well as the Duff Cooper Prize for Nonfiction. Her latest book, At the Existentialist Café (2016), offers a revelatory ramble with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and their circle of friends and frenemies—including Raymond Aron, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Iris Murdoch, and others. Regardless of their subject, Bakewell’s warm, vivid works trace out the complexly intertwining dramas of individual lives and larger intellectual, political, and social histories. Bakewell teaches creative writing at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, and lives in London.

"It's a massive surprise and honor, and also a terrific confidence-booster for keeping me working at new projects. Thank you!"
Sarah Bakewell