Piers Dudgeon grew up in England, in a rambling old vicarage beside a bombed-out church in rural south Devon by the sea and watched his father re-build a largely working-class community which had lost its children and its spiritual centre in the bombing. This and the beauty of the surrounding area were formative. School and university worked out this fundamental experience in utterly different contexts, in particular in music, theatre and the whole Sixties culture.
Subsequently, he trained at Drama School and worked for ten years as an editor in London, helping launch a successful paperback imprint at 25, before starting his own publishing company, Pilot Productions, producing books with authors as diverse as John Fowles, Catherine Cookson, Peter Ackroyd, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Conran, Ted Hughes and Susan Hill.
In 1993, he left London for the North York Moors, where he has written biographies of Catherine Cookson (a No. 1 best-seller), the lateral thinker Edward de Bono, the composer Sir John Tavener, and the novelists Barbara Taylor Bradford, Josephine Cox, J M Barrie and Daphne du Maurier.
He is also known for a library of illustrated books evocative of the spirit of place, including 'Thomas Hardy's England', 'Dickens' London', 'The English Vicarage Garden', 'Village Voices', and 'The Spirit of Britain: A Guide to Literary Britain'.
In 2008, Chatto & Windus published his biography of J.M. Barrie and the du Mauriers, 'Neverland', described by David Lodge as 'a fascinating account of the psychological web in which Barrie trapped the tragic du Maurier family', and Headline published his oral history of the East End of London, 'Our East End', the first in a series of oral histories of post-industrial communities in Britain.
In 2009, 'Our Glasgow' became a No. 4 bestseller in Scotland, Random House published the 2010 edition of his perennial 'Virgin Guide to British Universities'; and in New York in November, Pegasus-Dutton published 'Neverland', when it was nominated for the Theatre Library Association's Freedley Award. In 2010 his oral history of Liverpool was published in hardcover by Headline. In 2011 came the 2012 edition of the Virgin Guide, the US paperback edition of 'Neverland', the UK paperback edition of 'Our Liverpool' and the e-book edition of his classic 'Dickens London - An Imaginative Vision'.
This year sees publication of 'Our Kate: The Real Catherine Cookson' in hardcover and e-book editions (Pilot Productions), e-book editions of the three oral histories (Headline), and the launch of a new publishing venture that will bring, among much else, new translations of the hugely popular Don Camillo books by Giovanni Guareschi, unavailable for some twenty years.