Patrick McGuinness was born in 1968 in Tunisia, grew up in Belgium, Iran and Ireland, and now lives in Caernarfon, north Wales. In 1998 he won an Eric Gregory Award for poetry from the Society of Authors and in 2001, the Levinson Prize from the Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine. His poems, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, The Independent, PN Review, Poetry Wales, Leviathan, and New Writing 10.
His first book of poems, The Canals of Mars (Carcanet, 2004), was shortlisted for the Roland Mathias Prize. A selection of his poetry appears in New Poetries II, edited by Michael Schmidt (Carcanet, 2005), and his pamphlet, 19th Century Blues (Smith/Doorstop) was a winner in the 2006 Poetry Business competition. His book of poems, Jilted City (Carcanet, 2010), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
His first novel, The Last Hundred Days (Seren, 2011) was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2011 and won the 2012 Wales Book of the Year Award. Set during Ceausescu's last hundred days in power, it is narrated by a young English student who arrives in Bucharest for a job he never applied for, and explores a world of danger, repression and corruption.
Other People's Countries: A Journey into Memory (Jonathan Cape, 2014) won the 2015 Wales Book of the Year Award and Duff Cooper Prize 2014. The memoir was also shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize 2014, the 2015 PEN Ackerly Prize and longlisted for the 2014 Thwaites Wainwright Prize.
His academic books include Maurice Maeterlinck and the Making of Modern Theatre (OUP, 2000), Symbolism, Decadence and the fin de siècle (University of Exeter Press, 2000), and he has edited the Penguin Classics edition of Against Nature by J-K Huysmans and TE Hulme's Selected Writings for Carcanet. His French Anthologie de la Poésie symboliste et décadente is published by Les Belles Lettres (Paris, 2001).
He took part in a well-attended panel titled 'British Writers on Brexit' at the Weltempfang during the 2019 Frankfurt Book Fair alongside Bonnie Greer and Jan Carson.
He is a fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford, where he is a Professor of French and Comparative Literature.