Photo: Nick Spurling


Born in Kisumu, Kenya, July 17th, 1936. Son of Antony Cuthbert Spurling (1906-84) and Elizabeth Frances (née Stobart) (1908-90). Educated at Nairobi Primary School; Dragon School, Oxford; Marlborough College; St. John’s College, Oxford (BA in Law, 1960). National Service Second Lieutenant, Royal Artillery, 1955-7. Plebiscite Officer, Southern Cameroons, 1960-1. BBC Radio Announcer, 1963-6. Freelance writer since 1966. Henfield Writing Fellow, University of East Anglia, 1973. Married to the biographer Hilary Spurling since 1961. One daughter, two sons, seven grandchildren. Lives in London.

John's latest books are A Mirror for Monkeys, Arcadian Nights and The Ten Thousand Things (Winner of The Walter Scott Prize 2015), all published by Duckworth