Sarah Bakewell was born in Bournemouth on the English south coast, but she spent her childhood travelling the hippy trail with her parents and grew up mostly in Australia. She is a historical biographer and writer on the history of ideas. Her first book, The Smart, related the story of an infamous forgery trial in eighteenth-century London. Her second, The English Dane, was a biography of Jorgen Jorgenson, a flamboyant Danish adventurer who led a revolution in Iceland in 1809.
How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer is an unorthodox biography of the sixteenth-century philosopher and essayist Michel de Montaigne. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography in the U.S. and the Duff Cooper Prize for Non-Fiction in the U.K., and was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Marsh Biography Award. Her latest work, At The Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails, was published by Penguin in 2017. It was also shortlisted for the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize. in 2018 she received the Windham-Campbell prize for her contribution to non-fiction. She now lives in London and the Marche region of Italy. When not writing, she works as a freelance rare-books cataloguer and teaches courses in creative non-fiction.