Michael Holroyd was born in London, England on August 27, 1935. He was educated at Eton College. He published his first book, a biography of writer Hugh Kingsmill, in 1964. He has also written the biographies of George Bernard Shaw, Augustus John, Lytton Strachey, and Ellen Terry and Henry Irving. His other works include Basil Street Blues, Mosaic, and A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers. He has received several awards including the Heywood Hill Literary Prize in 2001, the David Cohen British Prize for Literature in 2005, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography for A Strange Eventful History in 2009. He was knighted for his services to literature in 2007.