Elaine Feinstein was born in Liverpool, brought up in Leicester, and educated at Newnham College, Cambridge. Since 1980 she has lived as a full-time writer. In the same year, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 1990, she received a Cholmondeley Award for Poetry, and was given an Honorary D.Litt from the University of Leicester. She has written fourteen novels, many radio plays and television dramas, and five biographies. She has travelled extensively; for the British Council in France, Spain, Italy, Rumania, India, and South East Asia and in Russia for GB/USSR. She has been invited to read her work at festivals in Cheltenham, Edinburgh, Charleston, Ledbury and Dartington; and at international events in Toronto, Paris, Milan, Rome, Jerusalem, Adelaide, New York, Wellington and others.
She was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow at Bellagio in 1998. Her novels and biographies have been translated into many languages, and her poems have been widely anthologised. Her Collected Poems and Translations was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. Her biography of Anna Akhmatova, Anna of All the Russias was published in 2005, and her latest book of poems, Talking to the Dead, came out in March 2007. She received a major Arts Council award for her book, The Russian Jerusalem.