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David Stephen Mitchell was born in Southport, Lancashire (UK) on 12 January 1969. He was educated at Hanley Castle High School and at the University of Kent, where he obtained a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature. Mitchell lived in Sicily for a year, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England, where he could live on his earnings as a writer and support his pregnant wife.

His first novel, ‘Ghostwritten’ (1999) won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best work of British literature written by an author under 35. The following two novels, ‘number9dream’ (2001) and ‘Cloud Atlas’ (2004) were both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Mitchell also wrote opera libretti. ‘Wake’, based on the 2000 Enschede fireworks disaster and with music by Klaas de Vries, was performed by the Dutch Nationale Reisopera in 2010. He has also finished another opera, ‘Sunken Garden’, with the Dutch composer Michel van der Aa, which premiered in 2013 by the English National Opera.

In 2018, Mitchell wrote the Introduction for How To Be Invisible, the book of lyrics by Kate Bush.