At the time of Acquainted with the Night's writing, author and poet Christopher Dewdney was 52 years old and living in Toronto with his wife, Barbara Gowdy. He had previously written 14 books, the last being the 2002 book of poetry, The Natural History. His previous non-fiction books were Last Flesh: Life in the Transhuman Era (1998) on the impacts of technological advances on humanism, The Secular Grail: Paradigms of Perception (1993) regarding the human psyche, and The Immaculate Perception (1986) on his views of consciousness, language and dreams. Dewdney's past books were described as being "more admired than read". On the topic of 'the night', he had a lifelong fascination with nightlife and eventually decided to write a book about it. He quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of information relating to the subject. For research, he consulted a variety of genres and formats, including books, journals, magazines, music, and movies, and collected information within the broad topics of art, science, social sciences and history. The perspective Dewdney took was that of "explaining night to beings from another planet that had two opposed suns and no night at all".
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