Richard Francis is a novelist, broadcaster and academic who taught American Studies at Manchester University for a number of years, where he is currently a visiting professor. In addition to his novels, which include Blackpool Vanishes, Swansong and The Land Where Lost Things Go, he is the author of Transcendental Utopias, a study of American communities. He has also written for television and radio. His highly acclaimed novel Taking Apart the Poco Poco, published in 1995, was awarded the Portico Prize for that year, and was followed in 1999 by Fat Hen. In 2000 he published his first work of non-fiction for Fourth Estate, Ann the Word. He now teaches creative writing at Bath Spa University College and is working on a biography of Samuel Sewell, a second-generation New England puritan who was a justice at the Salem witch trials. He lives in Bath with his wife.