Born in 1941 in Devon, England, Keay was educated at Ampleforth College, York and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was a demy (scholar) in Modern History. His tutors included the historian A J P Taylor and the playwright Alan Bennet. He first visited India in 1965 and has been returning there about every two years ever since. After a brief spell as a political correspondent (The Economist), he assisted in the revision of the last edition of John Murray's Handbook to India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (1975) and wrote Into India, his first book.
A string of acclaimed works followed - and continues. His next four books, all published in the 1970s, are still available today. The paperback of his The Honourable Company has just been reprinted for the tenth time. India: A History has just been produced in two volumes by the Folio Society. The Great Arc remains a best-seller. Collins' Encyclopaedia of Scotland, now in its second edition, has become the classic work of reference on all things Scottish and Sowing the Wind, on the West's management of the Middle East in the twentieth century, has been described as
the best in almost forty years (Guardian),
always entertaining and acute (The Spectator),
pulls off the impossible (Sunday Times),
impressive Excellent (New Statesman),
brilliant (Sunday Herald). In 2009 the Royal Society for Asian Affairs awarded him the Sir Percy Sykes' Memorial Medal for his literary contribution to Asian studies, and in 2010 the Royal Literary Fund appointed him to a Literary Fellowship at the University of Dundee.
He was married to the author Julia Keay (d 2011) and has four children. Though hailed as
one of our most outstanding historians (Yorkshire Post), John Keay is not attached to any academic faculty and survives on the royalty receipts from his books.
Home addressJohn Keay
Argyll PA33 1BB,
Literary agentBruce Hunter,
David Higham and Assocs Ltd.,
5-8 Lower John Street,
London W1F 4HA
Tel: 020 7434 5900
Fax: 020 7437 1072