Richard Mason was born near Manchester in 1919. He served in the RAF during the Second World War before taking a crash course in Japanese and becoming an interrogator of prisoners of war. His first novel, The Wind Cannot Read, which drew on these experiences, won the 1948 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was made into a film starring Dirk Bogarde. All of his following novels were also cinematised, most famously The World of Suzie Wong, about an artist’s romance with a Hong Kong prostitute. His last novel, The Fever Tree, was published in 1962. Mason moved to Rome in the early 1970s and lived there until his death in 1997.