Christine Nicholls grew up and went to school in Kenya. She was educated at the Kenya High School and Oxford University. She became a researcher for the BBC, and then was Joint Editor and subsequently sole Editor of the Dictionary of National Biography. for twenty years.
Her other books include The Swahili Coast; David Livingstone; History of St Antony's College, Oxford 1950-2000; Elspeth Huxley:a Biography; and A Kenya Childhood.
She lives in Oxford.