Hickman's first book, *Dreams of the Peaceful Dragon*, an account of a journey on horseback across the forbidden Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, was followed by *The Quetzal Summer*, a novel about love and death in the Andes, for which she was shortlisted for the *Sunday Times *Young British Writer of the Year. In 1993 she published a second travel book , *A Trip to the Light Fantastic* (later re-issued as *Travels with a Circus*), an account of a year spend living and working with a Mexican circus, for which she was short-listed for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, and which later became one of the Independent's Books of the Year. After the birth of her first child she turned to writing history books. The first of these *Daughters of Britannia: the Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives* rose to number two in the *Sunday Times* Bestseller lists, and remained in the top ten for five consecutive months. It was adapted into a highly successful twenty part series for BBC Radio 4's *Women's Hour*, and has sold nearly 200,000 copies to date.