I was born in Hong Kong in 1955 and had a peripatetic childhood as one of five children of an army officer. I went to Ellerslie School in Great Malvern from 1966–73, then to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford: I graduated in Experimental Psychology in 1976.

I worked briefly for a science publisher before joining New Scientist magazine as a section editor. Soon afterwards I began to present science programmes on BBC Radio 4.

I married David Long in 1981. We settled in Oxford, and our sons Ed and Will were born in 1982 and 1985. Since then I have worked mostly as a freelance writer, editor and broadcaster.