Dea Birkett was born in 1958. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Edinburgh as well as a PhD in African History from the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS). Birkett's first book, Jella: From Lagos to Liverpool – A Woman at Sea in a Man’s World (1992), is about her voyage as a crew member on board a West African cargo ship. It won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1993 and was shortlisted for Thomas Cook Travel Writer of the Year Award. Serpent in Paradise (1997), which follows her time on Pitcairn Island, home to the few remaining descendants of the Bounty mutineers, was also shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Award. Her other books include, Mary Kingsley: Imperial Adventuress (1992), Spinsters Abroad: Victorian Lady Explorers (2004) and Off the Beaten Track: Three Centuries of Women Travellers (2004). She is also co-editor of the best-selling Amazonian: The Penguin Book of Woman’s Travel Writing (1998).
Birkett has also written and presented two documentary films, The Devil Amongst Us (1997) and The Doctors Who Take Away Your Kids (2004). She is a writer for The Guardian and frequently broadcasts on radio and television.
She lives in London with her partner and their three children.
Books in order of publication:
Spinsters Abroad (1989).
Jelia: From Lagos to Liverpool- A Woman at Sea in a Man's World (1992).
Mary Kingsley: Imperial Adventuress (1992).
Serpent in Paradise (1997).
Off the Beaten Track: Three Centuries of Women Travellers (2004).