Norman Lewis' early childhood, as recalled in Jackdaw Cake, was spent partly with his Welsh spiritualist parents in Enfield, North London, and partly with his eccentric aunts in Wales. Forgoing a place at university for lack of funds, he used the income from photography to finance travels to Spain, Italy and the Balkans, before being approached by the Colonial Office to spy for them with his camera in Yemen. It was from his service in the Intelligence Corps during the Second World War that his masterpiece, Naples '44, emerged. Norman Lewis wrote thirteen novels and thirteen works of non-fiction, mostly travel books, but he regarded his life's major achievement to be the reaction to an article written by him entitled Genocide in Brazil, published in the Sunday Times in 1968. This led to a change in the Brazilian law relating to the treatment of Indians, and to the formation of Survival International.
'As a witness to his own times - the good, the bad and the ludicrous - he is unmatched.' - Sunday Times