Helen Thorpe was born in London to Irish parents. Her family immigrated to the United States when she was a small child, and she carried a green card until she was 21, when she became a naturalized citizen of the US.

Thorpe was formerly a staff writer for The New York Observer, The New Yorker’s Talk of the Town section, and Texas Monthly. She has also written stories for many other publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Westword, Slate, and 5280. She is the author of three books, Just Like Us, Soldier Girls, and The Newcomers. Her books are works of narrative nonfiction that document in a human and intimate way the lives of immigrants, refugees, and veterans of foreign conflicts.

The Newcomers was described by The New York Times as “a delicate and heartbreaking mystery story” about 22 immigrant and refugee teenagers who share one classroom while learning English together. That newspaper went on to say, “Thorpe’s book is a reminder that in an era of nativism, some Americans are still breaking down walls and nurturing newcomers, the seeds of the great American experiment.”