Before sacrificing his soul to dark forces in the Square Mile, Cityboy was a genuine left-wing hippy and political activist, complete with ponytail and hoop earrings. His dream of becoming a global traveller was cruelly dashed when his brother got him an interview at a French bank in the City, which would set him on the rocky road to destruction and despair.
Maria Anderson has been a NHS midwife for over 20 years. She has worked across the UK and is now based in Inverness with her husband and two children.
Ralph Barker joined the RAF in 1940, serving as an air gunner and wireless operator until 1945. He was fortunate enough never to end up 'down in the drink' himself, though his Beaufort was hit a few times, and he survived a crash on take-off in which his pilot and navigator were killed. After the war, he worked in civil aviation for a short time, before rejoining the RAF, to work in the secretariat until 1961. DOWN IN THE DRINK (1957) was his first book to be published. It launched a successful career as a writer, in the course of which he has written over a dozen books on the RAF, books on terrorism and war at sea, and hundreds of feature articles for the Sunday Express. He celebrated his ninetieth birthday in 2007 - fifty years after the first publication of DOWN IN THE DRINK, shortly after attending a party celebrating its republication.
Hillary Clinton was brought up in Chicago and educated at Wellesley College and Yale after which she practised as a lawyer and was a children's rights activist. She married Bill Clinton in 1975 and became America's First Lady when he was elected President in 1993. She was elected Senator for New York in 2000 and is now President Obama's Secretary of State.
Rich Cohen is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Tough Jews, The Avengers, Monsters, and (with Jerry Weintraub) When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead. He is a co-creator of the HBO series Vinyl and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone and has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Harper's Magazine, among others. Cohen has won the Great Lakes Book Award, the Chicago Public Library's 21st Century Award, and the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for outstanding coverage of music. His stories have been included in The Best American Essays and The Best American Travel Writing. He lives in Connecticut.
Tulisa Contostavlos is one of the most talented and high-profile recording artists working in the UK today. She has three platinum N-Dubz albums, four MOBO awards, a groundbreaking drama series, two documentaries, a MIND award and an X Factor judge's win under her belt. Not bad for a girl who's not yet twenty-five.But this is not just a tale of glittering successes. Tulisa grew up on a tough London estate and left school with no qualifications as she struggled to cope with deep-seated emotional problems while caring for her mother alone. She has seen first hand what drugs, alcohol, gang culture and violent relationships can do to young people, but she has come through it all to become the confident, inspiring artist she is today. After taking her little muffins Little Mix to the winning spot of the X Factor at the end of 2011, and with her long-awaited solo album being released later this year, the future is bright for Tulisa. Told in her own words, this is her story.
Matt Dawson won 77 caps and scored 101 points for England, and won 7 caps and scored 10 points for the British and Irish Lions, in a distinguished 15-year playing career, the pinnacle of which was winning the World Cup in 2003. At club level, he excelled at scrum-half for 13 years with Northampton and won the Heineken Cup in 2000, then finished his career at London Wasps where he won the Premiership in his first season.Dawson is now a much-loved broadcaster who captains a team on BBC1's long-running A Question of Sport and passionately presents and commentates on rugby on BT Sport and BBC Radio 5 Live. In 2006 he won BBC1's Celebrity Masterchef and finished second in BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing.
Clarissa Dickson Wright
Clarissa Dickson Wright found fame alongside Jennifer Paterson as one half of the much-loved TV cooking partnership Two Fat Ladies. She is the author of the bestselling memoir Spilling the Beans as well as many cookery books including The Game Cookbook and, most recently, Potty - her one-pot cookbook. She is also a passionate supporter of the Countryside Alliance and of rural life. She lives a little in London but mostly in Scotland.
Stuart Donald was born in Aberdeen in 1971 but spent his school years in Perth.As the fortunes of Aberdeen FC waned in the late eighties, Stuart left Perth High School to pursue an HND in business studies with languages in Dundee. Throughout the 1990s Stuart worked regularly in Italy and France to improve his command of the languages, working in hotels, in a cobblers, ironing shirts in a dry-cleaners and writing reports on economic cooperation for the local chamber of commerce. Stuart then attended Strathclyde University to do an honours degree course in International Business with modern languages (IBML), which led to a career in financial services, based between London and Paris and working for American conglomerate General Electric. Stuart met his wife Catriona and in 2005, they both came home to Scotland, where they were lucky enough to get good jobs in Edinburgh. Shortly after that they moved to Linlithgow, got married in 2006 and their daughter Elodie arrived in 2008.
Tim Ewbank writes regularly on show business for Now magazine, as well as for national newspapers like the Daily Express and Mail on Sunday. He is the author of a number of successful show business biographies, including ones on Rod Steward, Tom Jones and Roy Keane.
Air Commodore Colin Foale is a former RAF pilot who has experienced first-hand the kind of split-second life-or-death decisions that his son experienced in space.
Leni Gillman is a writer and outdoor enthusiast who has co-authored several books with her husband, Peter, and has won two OWG awards. They were married in 1962, have two children and three grandchildren, and live in south London. In 1992, they saw Everest together on a journey through Tibet, some of it retracing the steps of Mallory's 1921 reconnaissance expedition.
Peter Gillman has been a writer and journalist since 1964, for a long period working for the Sunday Times. The author of a dozen books, many on mountaineering themes, he is a member of the British Outdoor Writers Guild and has won a record five awards from them. He lives with his wife Leni in south-east London.
Rex Harper set up home in Cornwall in 1958 after serving in the RAF as a police dog handler. He worked in a local woollen mill and post office whilst building up his farm with his wife Julie, becoming the full-time RSPCA warden of the Perranporth centre in 1987. He was awarded the MBE for services to animal welfare in 2003.
Ben Hatch was born in London and grew up here, in Manchester and Buckinghamshire, where he lived in a Windmill that meant he was called Windy Miller at school for years, though he's not been scared by this experience at all. He now lives in Brighton with his tiny wife Dinah, and two children, in a normal house. He likes cheese and is balding although he disguises this fact by spiking his hair to a great height to distract people he wishes to impress. His latest book is called Road to Rouen: A 10,000 Mile Journey In cheese-filled Passat. Before this he wrote Are We Nearly There Yet? 8,000 Miles Round Britian in Vauxhall Astra, that was a Radio 2 Book of the Year, became a Number One bestseller and is currently being made into a movie by Island Pictures. He is the tallest Hatch who ever lived (5ft 9) and is son of Sir David Hatch, the famous radio performer and producer whose shadow Ben doesn't at all feel under. He also maintains that he knows the cure for the common cold (tweet him at @BenHatch to find this out) and that one of his relatives was John Couch-Adams who discovered the planet Neptune. Apparently his aunty told him.
Betty Herbert lives by the sea with her husband and much-adored cat, Bob. In real life, she's been a PA, a marketing consultant, a teacher, a writing tutor, a cultural producer and a director of a literary festival that never quite happened. She likes sea-swimming, cocktails, Stevie Wonder, swallows and holidaying in Devon.
Jo Hill is married with two children and lives in the country.
Lily Koppel is the bestselling author of The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal. She writes for the New York Times, and her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the Huffington Post and Glamour.
Sudha Koul was born in Kashmir the year that India was partitioned. Hers was one of the few Hindu families living in the predominantly Muslim area. Sudha became the first Kashmiri woman in the Indian Administrative Service, working as a roving magistrate in remote Indian villages. She returned to Kashmir only to witness it gradually ripping itself apart through religious bigotry and political incompetence. Married with two daughters, she now lives in New York.
John Lewis-Stempel is the author and editor of numerous previous books including England: The Autobiography and Eye-witness D-Day. He lives on a farm in Herefordshire with his wife and two children.