Peter Mayle was born in Brighton and went to boarding-school there for several years before leaving England for Barbados where his father had been posted with the Foreign Office. He left school at 16 and joined Shell as a trainee, before getting a job in advertising where he began as a copywriter. After almost 15 successful years in the industry, he decided to devote himself fully to writing.
Mayle began his writing career with a series of factual guides for children and adults, and also published two volumes of stories for children about Chilly Billy, who lives in the fridge.
However, it was in 1989, having relocated two years earlier from Devon to Provence in order to concentrate on fiction, that Peter Mayle published the book which not only became an international bestseller but also redefined the travel genre: A Year in Provence chronicles, with great humour and affection, the challenges Peter and his wife Jennie faced in adapting to French life. Over the years, he was to write several more books on Provence and on aspects – including the cuisine – of the life there.
Mayle also wrote several standalone novels (including A Good Year, which was adapted into a film directed by Ridley Scott) and four light-hearted detective stories, featuring the character Sam Levitt.
In 2002, Peter Mayle was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in recognition of his services to French culture.