John Fleming was born in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England on June 12, 1919. He read English at Trinity College, Cambridge. During World War II, he served with the Intelligence Corps and wrote articles for Architectural Review in his spare time. After the war, he qualified as a solicitor and served with the John Hilton bureau at Cambridge. The death of his parents enabled Fleming to follow his own inclinations by going to Italy to try his luck as a freelance writer. In the mid-1950's, he started writing and editing with Hugh Honour. For Penguin Books, they edited the series Style and Civilization. They also edited two more series for Penguin: Architect and Society and Art in Context. Together they wrote The Visual Arts: A History, The Penguin Dictionary of Decorative Arts, and The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture with Nikolaus Pevsner. Fleming won two prizes in 1962 for Robert Adam and His Circle in Edinburgh and Rome. He died on May 29, 2001 at the age of 81.