John Wilkinson was born in London in 1953 and grew up in Cornwall and Devon. He gained a B.A. in English from the University of Cambridge in 1975 and passed a year at Harvard working on the poetry of John Wieners. Thereafter he trained as a psychiatric nurse and worked over twenty years in mental health services in England, being the Head of Mental Health and Assistant Director of Public Health at East London & The City Health Authority. From 2005-2010 Wilkinson was Writer in Residence and thereafter Research Professor in the Department of English at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Since 2010 he is a Professor of Practice of the Arts at the University of Chicago.