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DAVID BAINBRIDGE is a clinical veterinary anatomist at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of St Catharine’s College. He trained as a veterinary surgeon at Cambridge while also studying for a degree in zoology. After qualifying as a vet, he spent one year in full-time clinical practice before studying for a PhD in reproductive biology and embryology in the Institute of Zoology at Regent's Park Zoo in London. Between that and his current job he studied the immunology of human and animal pregnancy at the University of Oxford and the Royal Veterinary College. He is still active in part-time clinical work. He is the author of A VISITOR WITHIN: The Science of Pregnancy (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000), THE X IN SEX: How the X Chromosome Controls Our Lives (Harvard University Press, 2003) and BEYOND THE ZONULES OF ZIN: A Tour Guide to Your Simple Brain (Harvard University Press, 2008). He has made many appearances on radio and television, written for New Scientist, The Times and La Recherche and been invited to give talks around the world. He lives in Suffolk with his wife and three children.



David Bainbridge's website

Featured titles


The Origins and Power of Female Body Shape


The first zoological account of female body shape, from our ancestral past to our surgically enhanced future.


This is a book about the female body – its biology, the mind it contains, the culture that surrounds it – and why it has turned out to be the strangest thing in existence. It has its origins, it has its future, and it also has immense power right now. Its influence pervades our lives from our base visceral functions to the esoteric artefacts of our modern civilization. And it dictates what it feels like to be a human being – female or male.


Modern Western society is obsessed by the female body. Magazines lure readers of both sexes with it; the fashion industry accentuates, conceals or distorts it; we are continually told that it is becoming too large, too small, too exploited. We rehash questionable old statistics about how much time women spend looking in mirrors, yet ridicule women who go on ‘mirror diets’ – deliberately avoiding their own reflection. Women complain about the pressure they feel to conform to an ‘ideal’ body shape. We fear that young women are being psychologically damaged by the barrage of perfect, often heavily airbrushed female flesh they see, yet we persist in consuming the products of the media who proffer that flesh. The female body is, quite simply, everywhere.


Yet rarely do women seem content with their bodies. Research shows that between 50 and 80 per cent of women are dissatisfied with their bodies, a consistently higher value than for men. At any one time, far more women than men describe themselves as being on a diet. Fifty per cent of women say that they would change the shape or size of their breasts if they could. Parents, friends, enemies, the media, even dolls – all have been shown to affect women’s self-image.


In CURVOLOGY, David Bainbridge applies the science of evolutionary biology and psychology to women's bodies. Drawing on illuminating references from art history, contemporary media culture and first-person interviews, he explains why the human female is the only female animal to have curves and how these curves rule our lives, by influencing not only sexual selection but also social hierarchy and self-perception.


Offering a level-headed and fresh perspective on a contentious issue, CURVOLOGY is a fascinating, lucid and highly newsworthy read.


Publisher: Portobello 

Published: February 2015

Length: 272 pages


All rights available excluding:

UK & Commonwealth (excluding Canada)


Translation rights: Portobello/Granta.

US & Canadian rights: The Science Factory



A Natural History


Why did my eyes suddenly stop focusing? Is the risk of Down’s syndrome too great for a 42- year-old woman to justify having a baby? How can I help my body in its battle against gravity?


For a life-stage so often dismissed as a simple, gradual transition between youth and old age, human middle age involves surprisingly distinctive (and often sudden) changes – physical, reproductive, cognitive, social and attitudinal.


In MIDDLE AGE, David Bainbridge takes a light-hearted and positive look at this distinct period of human age, showing that middle age is a unique human phenomenon that has evolved to allow us to pursue our exceptional way of life. He discusses what it is about turning forty that worries us so much and why the fifth and sixth decades of the human life-span are so different from those which precede and follow them.


Covering the evolution of middle age, the middle-aged mind, and love, sex and babies after forty, he examines how middle age has come to be so beneficial to our species, why we evolved such a distinctive life-stage, and what all this means for the future of middle age in an ageing population.


It aims to be essential reading for the middle aged, the almost middle aged, or those just past middle age, MIDDLE AGE takes the reader through this oft-neglected phase of human life which is, in fact, a driving force behind the unique success of our species.


Publisher: Portobello (UK)

Pub Date: 1 March 2012

Length: 304 pages


World rights: Portobello


For all international rights contact Laura Barber at Portobello Books

A Natural History

Praise for David Bainbridge's work

There are many literary stars in the firmament of writers on evolution, and to a man they write with dash and persuasive logic. David Bainbridge is one such – Miriam Stoppard, TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT

Lively, witty... a fine demonstration of science made accessible – KIRKUS REVIEWS

The success of Bainbridge’s book stems from his clear and interesting descriptions of complex concepts and from his deft enhancement of well-known material with rich scientific nuggets. To the author’s credit, he delivers his messages with scientific acumen and good humor... Some of the questions that Bainbridge answers are rarely addressed sufficiently in other accounts – Nancy Segal, SCIENCE

An entirely original book about teenagers: the low down on what science tells us about the period of adolescence when all the different strands of their life get tangled together in a way that will never happen again.

The efforts of biologists and psychologists in the past few decades have revolutionised our understanding of every part of the growing-up process. We now know why sexuality switches on at puberty – and why it happens in younger people now than in the past. We know why teenagers are impulsive and over-emotional. We know how addictive drugs latch on to our brain processes. We know why so many mental illnesses begin in adolescence. We know how the children of teenage mothers differ from those of older women. And we have a pretty good idea what effect sexual activity has on the young body and mind. Yet almost all we are ever told about teenagers is either wrong or out of date.

In TEENAGERS, David Bainbridge redresses the balance. By explaining the underlying science in a sensible, clear way, he aims to reach teenagers and parents directly so they are all better equipped to deal with this fascinating period of development.

People often talk about the teenage years as if they are no more than a painful and uncertain transition between blissful childhood and mature adulthood. TEENAGERS provides a more upbeat view. Being a teenager should be seen as a time when you can have the best of both worlds: 'the charming wonder of a child and the reassuring independence of an adult.’

Publisher: Portobello (UK)
Pub Date: 1 February 2010
Length: 304 pages

World rights: Portobello

For all international rights contact Laura Barber at Portobello Books