Claire Armitstead was born in south London and spent her early years in northern Nigeria. She worked as a trainee reporter in South Wales, covering the Welsh valleys during the miners’ strike, before joining the Hampstead & Highgate Express as a theatre critic and sub-editor. She then moved to the Financial Times, and subsequently to the Guardian, where she has worked as arts editor, literary editor, head of books and most recently, Associate Editor (Culture). She presents the weekly Guardian Books podcast and is a regular speaker at festivals around the world. She has been a trustee of English PEN since 2013.