Critic, author, poet, and lyricist Clive James was born in Sydney, Australia, and educated at Sydney University and Cambridge University.
James is the author of several collections of poetry, including Opal Sunset: Selected Poems 1958–2008, Angels over Elsinore: Collected Verse 2003–2008, and the satirical verse epic Peregrine Prykke’s Pilgrimage Through the London Literary World: A Tragedy in Heroic Couplets (1974). James’s assured, formal poems range in theme from romantic love to satire, and are composed in a wry voice reminiscent of Philip Larkin’s. Reviewing Opal Sunset, Village Voice critic Abigail Deutsch noted, “James’s artistry lies in his ability to seem both casual and careful: He observes an imperfect world with acerbic off-handedness, often setting his informal voice within formal verse.”
As “The Metropolitan Critic,” James anonymously contributed a regular column to the Times Literary Supplement. His weekly television review column for The Observer, which ran from 1972 to 1982, has been reprinted as On Television (1990). A television performer as well, James has written and presented numerous studio series and specials, including the series “Fame in the Twentieth Century,” which aired on the BBC and PBS. After helping found the television production company Watchmaker, James chaired the Internet enterprise Welcome Stranger.
James has also written several novels, including the best sellers Brilliant Creatures (1983) and The Silver Castle (1996). His memoirs include Unreliable Memoirs (1980) and North Face of Soho (2006). His collections of essays include As of This Writing (2003), The Meaning of Recognition (2005), and Cultural Amnesia (2007). Collaborating with the singer and musician Pete Atkin, James has written the lyrics for several commercially released albums.
James is a member of the Order of Australia and was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He has been made an honorary Doctor of Letters by both Sydney University and the University of East Anglia. James has won Australia’s premier award for poetry, the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal, as well as the George Orwell Special Prize for lifetime achievement in journalism and broadcasting.
He lives in London and Cambridge and is married to the scholar Prue Shaw.