John Worthen was born in London in 1943 and – as an academic in Charlottesville, Swansea and Nottingham – specialised for many years in writing about the life and editing the work of D. H. Lawrence; he ended up as Professor of D. H. Lawrence Studies at the University of Nottingham. His first book was D. H. Lawrence and the Idea of the Novel (Macmillan, 1979); he published D. H. Lawrence: A Literary Life with Macmillan in 1989, D. H. Lawrence with Edward Arnold in 1991 and his major study D. H. Lawrence: The Early Years 1885-1912 appeared from Cambridge University Press in 1991. Penguin published his full-length biography D. H. Lawrence: The Life of an Outsider early in 2005; he has also edited a number of Lawrence’s works for Cambridge University Press. But he took early retirement from his academic job in order to write: in 2001 Yale University Press brought out his group biography The Gang: Coleridge, the Wordsworth and the Hutchinsons in 1802. His newest biography is a life of the great German composer Robert Schumann, while he also plans to write a biography of Frieda von Richthofen, concentrating wholly on her life before she met D. H. Lawrence.
There was this publisher, this magazine editor and this literary agent . . . guests at a university information session. The literary agent was wonderfully young and wore a smart, red-striped shirt. He told the tale of a biographer whose book had been far too long, in spite of what he and the publisher had insisted. And how the book had sunk without trace. He talked simple good sense. I thought: 'if ever I need an agent - he's the one I'll ask to take me on'. And so I did.