David Constantine was born in 1944 in Salford, Lancashire. He read Modern Languages at Wadham College, Oxford, and lectured in German at Durham from 1969 to 1981 and at Oxford from 1981 to 2000. He is a freelance writer and translator, a Fellow of the Queen’s College, Oxford, and was co-editor of Modern Poetry in Translation from 2004 to 2013. He lives in Oxford and on Scilly. In December 2020 he was named winner of The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry for 2020. He was presented with the award by HM the Queen in 2021.
He has published eleven books of poetry, six translations and a novel with Bloodaxe. His poetry titles include Something for the Ghosts (2002), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award; Collected Poems (2004), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation; Nine Fathom Deep (2009); Elder (2014); and Belongings (2020). His Bloodaxe translations include editions of Henri Michaux and Philippe Jaccottet; his Selected Poems of Hölderlin, winner of the European Poetry Translation Prize, and his version of Hölderlin’s Sophocles, combined in his new expanded Hölderlin edition, Selected Poetry (2018); and his translation of Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s Lighter Than Air, winner of the Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation. His translation, A Bird Called Elaeus: poems for here and now from The Greek Anthology, is published by Bloodaxe in 2024. His other books include A Living Language: Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry Lectures (2004), his translation of Goethe’s Faust in Penguin Classics (2005, 2009), his monograph Poetry (2013) in Oxford University Press’s series The Literary Agenda, and his co-translation (with Tom Kuhn) of The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht (W.W. Norton, 2018).
He has published six collections of short stories, and won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2013 for his collection Tea at the Midland (Comma Press), and is the first English writer to win this prestigious international fiction award. Four other short story collections, Under the Dam (2005), The Shieling (2009), In Another Country: Selected Stories (2015) and The Dressing-Up Box (2019), and his second novel, The Life-Writer (2015), are published by Comma Press. His story 'Tea at the Midland' won the BBC National Short Story Award in 2010, while 'In Another Country' was adapted into 45 Years, a major film starring Tom Courtney and Charlotte Rampling.
Books by David Constantine