Poet and novelist John Burnside was born on 19 March 1955 in Dunfermline, Scotland, and now lives in Fife. He studied English and European Languages at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. A former computer software engineer, he has been a freelance writer since 1996. He is a former Writer in Residence at Dundee University and now teaches at the University of St Andrews.
His first collection of poetry, The Hoop, was published in 1988 and won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award. Other poetry collections include Common Knowledge (1991), Feast Days (1992), winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and The Asylum Dance (2000), winner of the Whitbread Poetry Award and shortlisted for both the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) and the T. S. Eliot Prize. The Light Trap (2001) was also shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. His poetry collection, The Good Neighbour (2005), was shortlisted for the 2005 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection).
He is also the author of a collection of short stories, Burning Elvis (2000), and several novels, including The Dumb House (1997), The Mercy Boys (1999) and The Locust Room (2001), which is set in Cambridge in 1975, and explores the consequences of a series of violent rapes. His novel, Living Nowhere (2003), is a powerful and violent story of friendship and loss. His latest novels are The Devil's Footprints (2007), shortlisted for the 2008 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction), and Glister (2008).
John Burnside's memoir, A Lie About My Father, was published in 2006, and a sequel, Waking Up in Toytown, in 2010. His latest collections of poetry are Gift Songs (2007) and The Hunt in the Forest (2009). In 2008, he received a Cholmondeley Award.