Glyn Maxwell was born in 1962 in Welwyn Garden City, England. He studied English at Oxford University and both poetry and theatre with Derek Walcott at Boston University.
His first book of poetry, Tale of the Mayor's Son was published in 1990. Since then, he has published several collections, including Out of the Rain (Bloodaxe Books, 1992), for which he received a Somerset Maugham Award; Rest for the Wicked (Bloodaxe Books, 1995), which was shortlisted for both the Whitbread Poetry Award and the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry; and The Breakage (Houghton Mifflin, 1998), which was shortlisted for both the T. S. Eliot and the Forward Poetry Prizes.
Most recently, he is the author of Pluto (Picador, 2013); One Thousand Nights and Counting: Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011); Hide Now (Houghton Mifflin, 2008), which was short-isted for both the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry and the Forward Poetry Prize; The Sugar Mile (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), a narrative collection that dramatizes several stories at once; The Nerve (Picador, 2002), which won the 2004 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize; Time's Fool: A Tale in Verse (Houghton Mifflin, 2000), selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and The Boys at Twilight: Poems 1990-1995 (Houghton Mifflin, 2000), also selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Maxwell also published On Poetry (Harvard University Press, 2013), a critical guidebook and edited The Poetry of Derek Walcott: 1948-2013 (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014).
He has written and staged several plays in London and New York. In 1997 he was awarded the E. M. Forester Prize from the Academy of Arts and Letters.
About Maxwell's work, the poet Joseph Brodsky has said, "Glyn Maxwell covers a greater distance in a single line than most people do in a poem. There is an extraordinary propulsion in his work, owing in part to his tendency to draw metaphor from syntax itself. He is a poet of immense promise and unforgettable delivery."
Maxwell served as poetry editor of The New Republic from 2001 to 2007. He is a regular contributor to Ian McMillan's BBC Radio 4's The Verb and reviews for the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Welsh Academy.
He lives in London and is a professor of writing at New York University and Essex University.