Lesley Downer’s mother was Chinese and her father a professor of Chinese, so she grew up in a house full of books on Asia. But it was Japan, not China, that proved the more alluring, and where she lived for over fifteen years. She has written many books about the country and its culture, including Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World and Madame Sadayakko: The Geisha who Seduced the West. She has also presented television programmes on Japan for Channel 4 and the BBC. She now lives in London, but still makes sure she returns to Japan at least once a year.