Author and Journalist
Photograph by Jonathan Bowen
Andrew Robinson is the author of some twenty-five books, issued by leading general and academic publishers in the UK and the USA, including Thames & Hudson and Yale University Press. They have been translated into thirteen European languages, as well as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Taiwanese and Vietnamese. Several have become teaching texts in universities.
Their subjects cover three main areas:
They include seven biographies, of both scientists and artists, ranging from physicist Albert Einstein, physician (and polymath) Thomas Young, through philologists Jean-François Champollion and Michael Ventris, to film-director Satyajit Ray and writer Rabindranath Tagore.
A former literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement, he writes reviews and features in both the arts and sciences for newspapers, magazines and journals such as BBC History Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, The Lancet, Nature and The Wall Street Journal.
He also gives talks and lectures about his research and books at venues such as the British Museum, the Hay Festival of Literature, the Royal Institution and the University of Oxford.
Contact address: andrew[at]andrew-robinson.org
a. Einstein: A Hundred Years of Relativity
(Princeton University Press, 2015)
--an extended edition of his widely appreciated 2005 biography of Albert Einstein, published for the centenary of the 1915 general theory of relativity, with contributions from three Nobel laureates
b. The Indus: Lost Civilizations
(Reaktion Books, 2015)
--a bestselling introduction to the most enigmatic early civilisation, which flourished in India/Pakistan c. 2000 BC apparently without resort to military arms, and the first book in the series Lost Civilizations
c. Earth-Shattering Events: Earthquakes, Nations and Civilization
(Thames & Hudson, 2016)
--a history of great earthquakes and their effects on nations and civilisation: always destructive, but sometimes also surprisingly creative, as in California, China and Japan
d. Cracking the Egyptian Code: The Revolutionary Life of Jean-François Champollion
(Thames & Hudson/Oxford University Press USA, 2012, published in paperback by Thames & Hudson in 2018)
--a biography of the French genius who deciphered the hieroglyphs, including his rivalry with the British polymath Thomas Young, subject of an earlier biography, The Last Man Who Knew Everything
e. India: A Short History
(Thames & Hudson, 2014, published in paperback in 2019)
--an introduction to five millennia of Indian history with some personal touches based on four decades of interaction with India, including research for biographies of Satyajit Ray and Rabindranath Tagore.
1. His next book will be Einstein on the Run: How Britain Saved the World's Greatest Scientist, a biographical study of Albert Einstein's fruitful and complex relationship with Britain--scientific, political and cultural--from the 1890s until Einstein's death in 1955. It is due to be published by Yale University Press in September 2019, during the centenary of the confirmation of Einstein's general theory of relativity by British astronomers that launched Einstein as an international star in 1919.
He wrote an article about the 1919 centenary published in The Wall Street Journal on 14 February 2019, "The experiment that made Einstein famous" (download article), and a review of two books about the centenary published in Science on 10 May 2019. See also his article, "Einstein in Oxford", published in Physics World in June 2019.
Advance comments on Einstein on the Run include:
"Andrew Robinson's evocative account of a transitional phase in Einstein's life offers a valuable new perspective on this great scientist's personality--and is of course of special interest to English readers."
Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal
"A well-researched and very readable book about a less well-known period in Einstein's life--his contact with England and English scientists.”
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, University of Oxford
2. He has contributed the opening essay, "The origins of writing", to a catalogue accompanying a British Library exhibition, Writing: Making Your Mark, scheduled to run from April-August 2019.
As a journalist, he has written features and reviews for many national newspapers and magazines in the UK and the USA.
Newspapers include: The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, The Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Science magazines and journals include: Antiquity, Current World Archaeology, Endeavour, E&T (Engineering and Technology), (BBC) Focus, Geoscientist, The Lancet, Nature, New Scientist, Physics World and Science.
Other magazines, journals and websites include: Aeon, BBC History Magazine, British Museum Magazine, History Today, Minerva, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, The Spectator, Sight and Sound, The Times Higher Education Supplement and The Times Literary Supplement.
Plus entries in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
He has also appeared on BBC Radio and BBC Television, and acted as a consultant to two BBC TV programmes based on his research for his biographies of Satyajit Ray and Michael Ventris.
Talks and Lectures
He gives talks and lectures, at literary festivals, museums, academic conferences and other institutions and events. A recent lecture, "The origins of writing", at the British Museum in January 2019, packed out both of the theatres at the museum.
He recently joined the Advisory Council of the Friends of the British Museum in London and the Advisory Board of Planet Word, a museum of language and writing due to open in Washington DC in 2020.
Education and Career
An alumnus of the Dragon School, Oxford, he is a King's Scholar of Eton College. He holds degrees from University College, Oxford (in chemistry) and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London (in South Asian area studies). From 2006-10, he was a visiting fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. His father, F. N. H. (Neville) Robinson, was a physicist at the University of Oxford from the 1950s to the 1990s.
He has received a number of academic grants towards his research, notably a fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, a research grant from the British Academy, and major grant from the John Templeton Foundation to study creativity, genius and breakthroughs in the arts and sciences.
He was on the staff of Macmillan Publishers from 1979-82, Granada Television from 1983-88 and the independent television production company Brian Lapping Associates from 1989-90, and was literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement in London from 1994-2006. He has extensive experience of editing reviews, essays and books written by authors in fields ranging from physics through finance and cookery to literature. In 2007, he became a full-time writer of books and journalism.
Read his article about his career, "Polymathic pursuits", in The Author, winter 2016, and his Wikipedia entry, and listen to him talking about polymathy (based on his biography of Thomas Young, The Last Man Who Knew Everything), on BBC Radio 4 in 2017.
Copyright © 2016 Andrew Robinson. All rights reserved.