John Gross was born on 12 March 1935 in London. He was educated at the Perse School in Cambridge and the City of London School. Admitted to Wadham College, Oxford, at just seventeen, he gained a first class honours degree in English Literature which won him a fellowship at Princeton. Upon his return to England, he taught at Queen Mary, University of London and King’s College, Cambridge, where he was a fellow from 1962 to 1965. In 1969, he won the Duff Cooper Prize for his novel The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters, and won praise for James Joyce, Shylock: Four Hundred Years in the Life of a Legend and his childhood memoir A Double Thread.
In 1974 he became editor of The Times Literary Supplement, a position he held until 1981. Two years later he took the position of Senior Book Editor and critic for The New York Times. From 1989 to 2005 he worked as a theatre critic for The Sunday Telegraph. Gross also worked as Assistant Editor on Encounter and as Literary Editor for both the New Statesman and Spectator.
He died in January 2011.