Allan Massie was born on 19 October 1938 in Singapore, and was educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond and Trinity College, Cambridge. He began his career as a teacher (1960-71) at Drumtochty Castle School, and also taught English as a second language in Rome (1972-5). He was Creative Writing Fellow at Edinburgh University (1982-4) and at Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities (1985-6). He was a member of the Scottish Arts Council (1989-91), a Trustee of the National Museums of Scotland (1995-8), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Allan Massie was a columnist for the Glasgow Herald (1985-8) and the Sunday Times Scotland (1987-91), and has been fiction reviewer for The Scotsman since 1976. He has been a columnist for the Daily Telegraph since 1991, The Daily Mail since 1994, and the Sunday Times Scotland since 1996. A former editor of the New Edinburgh Review, he also contributes to the Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator.