Catherine Hewitt’s academic career began with a passion for 19th-century French art, literature and social history. Her doctoral research uncovered the remarkable story of a forgotten 19th-century courtesan, and after being awarded her PhD, she set out on her career in biography.

Catherine’s first book, The Mistress of Paris, was awarded the runner-up’s prize in the 2012 Biographers’ Club Tony Lothian competition for the best proposal by an un-commissioned, first-time biographer. Her second book, Renoir’s Dancer, gained a starred Kirkus review, while Art is a Tyrant has just been awarded the 2020 Franco-British Society prize and voted one of The Sunday Times Best Art Books of the Year.

Based on meticulous research, Catherine’s writing seeks to lift history out of the dusty annals of academia and bring its characters and events to life for the 21st-century reader. Her writing introduces real people, telling their stories in intimate detail and enabling readers to share their successes and frustrations. As well as writing, Catherine lectures and runs workshops on 19th-century French art, literature and social history. She also works as a translator, and past projects have included translating a permanent exhibition of the work of the radical French female painter Suzanne Valadon for a gallery near Limoges in France.

Catherine lives in a village in Surrey.