John Dickie was born in Dundee in 1963. He was brought up in Leicestershire and educated at Loughborough Grammar School. He won a place at Pembroke College, Oxford, graduating in 1986 with a First in Modern Languages.

He subsequently gained an MA and a DPhil at Sussex University. Since 1993 he has taught at University College London, where he is now Professor of Italian Studies.

John has published widely in academic journals on various topics in Italian history and he has also written extensively for the press in the UK, Italy and other countries.

In 2005 the President of the Italian Republic appointed him a Commendatore dell'Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana.

Apart from Cosa Nostra, Delizia! and Mafia Brotherhoods, he is the author of two further books:  Darkest Italy. The Nation and Stereotypes of the Mezzogiorno, 1860-1900 (New York, 1999) and Una catastrofe patriottica. 1908: il terremoto di Messina (Rome, 2008)

He lives in London with his wife, the novelist Sarah Penny, and their three children.