Born and raised in London, Diana Preston studied Modern History at Oxford University, where she first became involved in journalism. After earning her degree, she became a freelance writer of feature and travel articles for national UK newspapers and magazines and has subsequently reviewed books for a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. She has also been a broadcaster for the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and has been featured in various television documentaries.
Eight years ago, her decision to write "popular" history led her to The Road to Culloden Moor: Bonnie Prince Charlie and the '45 Rebellion (Constable UK, 1995). It was followed by A First Rate Tragedy: Robert Falcon Scott and the Race to the South Pole (Houghton Mifflin, 1998), The Boxer Rebellion (Walker & Company, 2000), Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy (Walker & Company, 2002) and now, Before The Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima.
In choosing her topics, Preston looks for stories and events which are both compelling in their own right and also help readers gain a wider understanding of the past. She is fascinated by the human experience-what motivates people to think and act as they do‹and the individual stories that comprise the larger historical picture. Preston spent over two years researching Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy. She did a remarkable amount of original research for the book, and is the first author to make full use of the German archives and newly discovered papers that illuminate both the human tragedy and subsequent plots to cover up what really happened. Preston traveled to all the key locations of the tragedy, experiencing firsthand how cold the water off the Irish coast near Cobh would have been in early May when the Lusitania sank, and how eerie it was to stand inside what remains of the U-20 (now at the Strandingsmuseum in West Jutland, Denmark) where the U-boat captain watched the Lusitania through his periscope and gave the order to fire. Of the many artifacts she reviewed, it was her extensive reading of the diaries and memoirs of survivors that had the biggest impact on her. The experience of looking at photographs and touching the scraps of clothing of both survivors and those who died when the Lusitania sank provided her with chilling pictures: The heartbreaking image of a young girl whose sister's hand slipped away from her was one that kept Preston up at night.
When not writing, Preston is an avid traveler with her husband, Michael. Together, they have sojourned throughout India, Asia, Africa, and Antarctica, and have climbed Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and Mount Roraima in Venezuela. Their adventures have also included gorilla-tracking in Zaire and camping their way across the Namibian desert.
Diana and Michael Preston live in London, England.