Jeremy Halvard Prynne was born in Bromley, Kent, in 1936 and educated at St Dunstan's College, London. After National Service as a commissioned officer in the Royal Army Service Corps from 1955 to 1957, he matriculated at Jesus College, Cambridge in November 1957. He read English for both parts of the tripos, and graduated B.A. in 1960 and M.A. in 1964. He held the Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship at Harvard University in 1960-1961. In 1962 he became a research fellow at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and became an official fellow in 1963. He acted as tutor, college lecturer and director of studies in English, and as college Librarian, and was made a life fellow of the college in 2003. In the University of Cambridge he was University Assistant Lecturer, 1964-1969; University Lecturer, 1972-2000; and Reader in English Poetry, 2000-2003. In addition to the Cambridge posts he held visiting lectureships, fellowships and professorships at a number of universities in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, the United States of America, China and Australia.