Mal Peet grew up in a council estate in north Norfolk in a family that he describes as 'emotionally impaired'. He attended the Paston School and studied English and American Studies at the University of Warwick, after which he worked at a variety of jobs before becoming a novelist at a relatively late age. He lives in Devon with his wife, Elspeth Graham, and has three children.
His first novel, Keeper (2003), won the Branford Boase Award. His second, Tamar (2005), won the 2005 Carnegie Medal. In 2007 he published The Penalty, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Book Trust Teenage Prize. He won the 2009 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize with Exposure (2008), a modern re-telling of Shakespeare's Othello. Cloud Tea Monkeys (2010), a children's picture book written in conjunction with his wife and illustrated by Juan Wijngaard, is a modern folktale set in India. Life: An Exploded Diagram (2011) is his latest novel.