Siân Rees was born and brought up in Cornwall, spending much of her childhood in boatyards and at sea. She read Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford. Her first book, The Floating Brothel, was written after living in Australia, and published in 2001. It was followed by The Shadows of Elisa Lynch (2003) after a stint in South America, The Ship Thieves (2006), and Sweet Water and Bitter: the ships that stopped the slave trade (2009), and Moll: the Life and Times of Moll Flanders in 2011. She lives in Brighton and France.