James Fenton was born in 1949 in Lincoln, England. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Magdalen College, Oxford in 1970. Over the past four decades, he has worked as a political journalist, drama critic, book reviewer, war correspondent, and columnist in addition to his literary work. From 1994 to 1999, he served as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.
Described by Stephen Spender as “a brilliant poet of technical virtuosity,” Fenton has recently collected his work in Yellow Tulips: Poems 1968-2011 (2011). His other books of poetry include Out of Danger (1994), The Memory of War (1982), Children in Exile (1983), and Terminal Moraine (1972). He also is the author of the non-fiction books School of Genius: A History of the Royal Academy of Arts (2006), An Introduction to English Poetry (2002), The Strength of Poetry: Oxford Lectures (2001), Leonardo’s Nephew: Essays on Art and Artists (1998), and All the Wrong Places: Adrift in the Politics of the Pacific Rim (1988). In 2012, he adapted The Orphan of Zhao for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Winner of both the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry (2007) and the Whitbread Prize for Poetry (1994), Fenton also has been awarded the Newdigate Prize (1968), the Eric Gregory Award (1971), and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1984). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.