James Hamilton-Paterson is a diverse and talented author, described as "one of the most reclusive of British literary exiles". His writing has spanned fiction, narrative non-fiction, children's books, poetry, travel writing and autobiography, with considerable success in each field.
Having won the Newdigate Prize for poetry whilst at Oxford, James never settled in England and has always travelled extensively. His journalism has appeared in the Sunday Times, the Times Literary Supplement, Granta, the New Statesman and Condé-Nast Traveller, as well as columns in the German-language magazines Das Magazin, Mare and Die Weltwoche.
James won the Whitbread First Novel Award for his debut Gerontius, a fictional reconstruction of the journey made by the composer Sir Edward Elgar to Brazil in 1923. His comic novel Cooking with Fernet Branca was long-listed for the 2004 Booker and won of ‘Bookered Out’, the BBC’s People’s Booker. This book and its two sequels prompted Ian Thomson in the Spectator to call James “one of our finest prose stylists… a national treasure”.
In non-fiction, James has written extensively on subjects as diverse as the sea (his collection Seven-Tenths), classical music (a book on Beethoven's Eroica in the Landmarks series) and especially aviation. His book Empire of the Clouds, a history and rumination on the decline of the British aviation industry, has sold over 140,000 copies across all editions, including a deluxe illustrated edition. He has since written Marked for Death, a critically acclaimed history of the First World War in the air, and a definitive book on the Blackbird SR-71 Spy Plane.
For many years he divided his time between Tuscany and the Philippines, and currently he lives in Austria.