Born in 1963 to Jamaican parents living in Brixton, Alex Wheatle spent most of his childhood in a Surrey children's home. He returned to Brixton in 1977 where he founded the Crucial Rocker sound system and performed his own songs and lyrics under the name of Yardman Irie. He spent a short stint in prison following the Brixton uprising in 1981. Following his release from prison he continued to write poems and lyrics and became known as the Brixton Bard. Alex's first novel, Brixton Rock, was published to critical acclaim in 1999. Five more novels, East of Acre Lane, The Seven Sisters, Island Songs, Checkers and The Dirty South followed, all highly praised. His books are on school reading lists and Alex takes part in Black History Month every year, working with Booktrust and the Children's Discovery Centre to promote reading. He is representing English PEN, and tours the country with his one-man show, Uprising. He teaches in various places, including Lambeth College, holds workshops in prisons and is frequently invited to schools to speak to students, inspiring a passion for literature with his own story. He was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to literature in 2008. A favourite of reading groups and libraries, he is the UK's most read Black British author. He is working on a non-fiction book about Black Britain and on Young Adult novels.