Kevin Crossley-Holland was born on 7 February 1941 in the small Buckinghamshire village of Mursley. He grew up in the village of Whiteleaf in the Chiltern Hills, renowned for its ancient churches, pagan hill figures and a beautiful landscape scarcely altered for centuries. His father was a musicologist who would sing him traditional folk songs as a child, accompanied by a welsh harp. The songs often revolved around the semi-mythical character of King Arthur and Camelot, legends and stories that would have a deep impression on the young boy.
After attending Bryanston School in Dorset he went to St Edmund Hall, Oxford University. Already an aspiring poet, after failing his first year exams he discovered a love for Anglo-Saxon history and literature. He became interested in the works of W. H. Auden and Tolkien, both writers inspired by Arthurian legend.
After graduating he became the Gregory Fellow in Poetry at Leeds University, where he pursued his interest in writing and early English literature with a dream of translating Beowulf, arguably the most important work of early English writing. However, to earn a living he began working in PR for Macmillan Publishing, eventually becoming editorial director at Victor Gallancz publishers. At the same time he worked on his translations and poems, as well as lecturing in Anglo-Saxon literature at Tufts University. His translation of Beowulf was finally published in 1968 and has been reprinted on numerous occasions. He also published a collection of Norse myths with Penguin and even wrote the libretti for two operas The Green Children (1966) and The Wildman (1976).
In 2000, the first of the Crossley-Hollland books was published, titled The Seeing Stone, the first in his Arthur Trilogy. These books tell the story of Arthur de Caldicot, a young page living in the Welsh Marches in 1199 at the beginning of the Fourth Crusade. Through his seeing stone Arthur is able to look into the mythical world of Arthurian legend, seeing the unfolding of the stories of Camelot. The book was an immediate success, winning the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award and has been translated into 23 languages. The Seeing Stone was followed by At the Crossing-Places (2001) and King of the Middle-March (2003).
Following seven years of teaching in Minnesota, Crossley-Holland now lives on the north of the Norfolk coast with his wife Linda.