Robin Waterfield was born in England in 1952, and received a traditional British private education,
which at least instilled in him a lifelong love for the Classics, and especially Greek. This love blossomed in the
congenial environment of Manchester University (1971-4), where he took the Classics Prizes in 1972 and 1973. By
1974, determined to become a university lecturer, he abandoned Manchester for a PhD in Cambridge. But before
completing his dissertation (on Plato’s Philebus), he accepted a one-year post in the Classics department
at Newcastle University. This was followed by three one-year posts at St Andrews University, in the Department of
Greek. At this point, in 1982, Mrs Thatcher’s government decided there were too many lecturers in ‘unimportant’
subjects such as Classics, and he was made redundant.
He crept into Penguin Books through a side door (they were in the process of publishing his first book)
and became a copy-editor for a couple of years, before leaving in 1984 to pursue a career as a writer (sustained
for a while by continuing to work as a freelance copy-editor). He was tempted back to Penguin in 1988 to commission
for the newly acquired Arkana list (and subsequently business books and health books too), but the pull of writing
again proved too strong, and he left early in 1991, while remaining as a consultant to Penguin until the very end
of 1999, for Penguin Classics and for Arkana. He has also been the advisory editor for Puffin Gamebooks, a
biographical copy-writer, and a blurb-writer.
He was an invited lecturer at Williams College, Massachusetts, in January and February 2000, and Writer
in Residence at the University of Sussex in the academic year 2001-2; and between 2002 and 2005 he taught academic
writing skills at several universities and colleges in London and south-east England. This work was paid for by the
Royal Literary Fund, and he was also a member of the RLF’s Higher Education Panel, whose
purpose was to address the crisis in writing and literacy skills currently afflicting British universities. But
in 2005 he chose to leave Britain altogether for sunnier and, supposedly, cheaper climes. He now lives with his
wife Kathryn and two cats in the rural far south of Greece, where as well as writing he has a small olive farm,
producing organic olive oil.
He is co-editor, with Richard Alston, of the Oxford University Press series ‘Ancient Warfare and
Civilization’. He has given invited lectures both in the UK and in the States, has appeared on radio a number of
times (chiefly in the context of publicizing a book), on various blogs, and in the expanded version of BBC2's 2010
production 'Ancient Worlds'. He has written over 250 book reviews or notices for academic
journals. Apart from 30 retellings of other people’s books (for children, talking books, and the EFL market), and
about the same number of miscellaneous articles and introductions, his main publications are listed in the relevant
sections of this website.