Paul Cooper was born in South London and grew up in Cardiff, Wales. He was educated at the University of Warwick and UEA, and after graduating he left for Sri Lanka to work as an English teacher. He has worked as an archivist, editor and journalist, and has a PhD in the cultural and literary significance of ruins. He has written for the New York Times, the BBC, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Discover Magazine. His first novel, River Of Ink, was published in January 2016, and his second novel, All Our Broken Idols, in May 2020.