Helena Drysdale

Non-fiction writer


Helena Drysdale writes non-fiction — a hybrid of travel, memoir, history, biography and journalism. Looking for George: love and death in Romania (Picador, 1996), about a missing poet/priest, was shortlisted for the Pen/J.R. Ackerley award, and the Esquire/Apple/Waterstone’s non-fiction award. Mother Tongues: travels through tribal Europe (Picador, 2001) was book of the year in the Sunday Times, Independent, and the Times. Strangerland: a family at war (Picador, 2006), about murdered pioneers in New Zealand, was book of the year in the Sunday Times andthe Spectator. Her most recent book is Tibet: a brief history (HistoryWorld, 2012). After reading history and art history at Cambridge, she co-edited Artscribe magazine before departing for Tibet then Madagascar, resulting in Alone through China and Tibet (Constable, 1986) and Dancing with the Dead: a journey through Zanzibar and Madagascar (Hamish Hamilton, 1991). She also wrote and presented the ITV documentary Dancing with the Dead.

Helena Drysdale has received awards from the Authors’ Foundation, the Kay Blundell Trust and the John Murray Charitable Trust. She has judged the Society of Authors travel award, and the Travel Writers’ Guild travel-book award. She writes for all major British newspapers, and has appeared on numerous radio programmes including BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Midweek and Excess Baggage. Her work with the RLF has helped her to broaden her teaching for the Arvon Foundation, Skyros Writers’ Lab, the Writers’ Workshop and Ty Newydd. She also edits non-fiction for the Writers’ Workshop. Helena Drysdale lives in Somerset and has two daughters.

More from Helena Drysdale


Helena Drysdale

Non-fiction writer


[email protected]




  • University of Exeter, 2015–2016
  • University of Exeter, 2007–2009