Pietro Bartolo was born in Lampedusa sixty years ago to a family of fishermen and grew up working on his father's boat. He returned to Lampedusa after getting his medical degree, and has been running the clinic since 1991.
Sacha Batthyány was born in Switzerland in 1973 to Hungarian émigré parents. He was an editor at the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and is now a political reporter for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, based in Washington DC.
Quentin Blake was born in 1932. He went to Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School before studying English at Downing College, Cambridge. After National Service he did a postgraduate teaching diploma at the University of London, followed by life-classes at Chelsea Art School.
He is known for his collaboration with writers such as Russell Hoban, Joan Aiken, Michael Rosen, and Roald Dahl, as well as creating much-loved characters of his own, including Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage.
His books have won numerous prizes and awards, including the Whitbread Award, the Kate Greenaway Medal, the Emil/Kurt Maschler Award and the international Bologna Ragazzi Prize. He won the 2002 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, the highest international recognition given to creators of children's books.
Described by The Guardian, as 'a national institution', in 1999 he was appointed the first ever Children's Laureate, a post designed to raise the profile of children's literature.
Joanna Bolouri worked in sales before she began writing professionally at the age of thirty. Winning a BBC comedy script competition allowed her to work and write with stand-up comedians, comedy scriptwriters and actors from across the UK. She's had articles and reviews published in The Skinny, the Scottish Sun, the Huffington Post and HecklerSpray. She lives in Glasgow with her daughter.
Adélaïde Bon is a French writer and actress. On a summer's day in 1990, when she was nine years old, she was raped by a stranger in the stairwell of her own building. Twenty-five years later, her attacker was arrested and found guilty of a series of rapes and sexual assaults, spanning decades. The Little Girl on the Ice Floe, Adélaïde Bon's first book, is a memoir of the years following that sunny day in 1990 that changed her life forever.
Hilary Boyd trained as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, then as a marriage guidance counselor. After a degree in English Literature at London University in her thirties, she moved into health journalism, writing a Mind, Body, Spirit column for the Daily Express. She published six non-fiction books on health-related subjects before turning to fiction and writing a string of bestsellers, starting with Thursdays in the Park. Hilary is married to film director/producer Don Boyd and lives near Chichester, West Sussex.
Hester Browne is the author of numerous bestselling novels including The Little Lady Agency in the Big Apple, The Finishing Touches and Swept Off Her Feet. She divides her time between London and Herefordshire.
James Buchan is the author of several novels, including A Parish of Rich Women, which won the 1984 Whitbread Book of the Year award, and Heart's Journey in Winter which won the Guardian prize. He is also an outstanding literary critic and non-fiction writer whose works include a biography of Adam Smith, Frozen Desire: An Enquiry into the Meaning of Money and Captial of the Mind.