James Fenton was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he won the Newdigate Prize for Poetry.
He has worked as a journalist on The New Statesman, was a freelance reporter in Indo-China, theatre critic for The Sunday Times for five years, chief book reviewer for The Times from 1984 to 1986, South East Asian correspondent for The Independent from 1986 to 1988 and a columnist for them until 1995. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1983 and was Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1994 to 1999. In 2007 he was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Poetry collections include Yellow Tulips, Out of Danger, The Memory of War and Children in Exile. Further publications include Leonardo’s Nephew, School of Genius: A History of the Royal Academy of Arts and A Garden from a Hundred Packets of Seeds. Plays and libretti include: The Orphan of Zhao and Tamar’s Revenge (RSC), Pictures from an Exhibition (Young Vic), The Tsunami Song Cycle (BBC), Rigoletto (ENO) and Haroun and the Sea of Stories (New York City Opera).