Walter Tevis (1928-84) was born in San Francisco but his family moved to Kentucky when he was ten. However, he was suffering from rheumatic fever and was left behind, alone in hospital. He rejoined his family in Kentucky after a year and attended school there. After service as a carpenter's mate in the Second World War, he went to the University of Kentucky where he earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in English. He then taught at various high schools in Kentucky before becoming a professor at the University of Ohio. He began publishing science fiction in 1957. He published The Hustler in 1959 and The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1963 but he was struggling with a serious drink problem and a long gap in his writing career followed. However, in the four years before his death from cancer, he published Mockingbird, which is now widely recognized as a science-fiction classic, The Steps of the Sun and The Queen's Gambit.