John Bayley was born in born 1925 in Lahore (then British India). He was educated at Eton before going on to study at Oxford University.
From 1974 to 1992, Bayley was Warton Professor of English at Oxford. He is also a novelist and writes literary criticism for several newspapers. He edited Henry James' The Wings of the Dove and a two-volume selection of James' short stories.
He was married to the novelist Iris Murdoch from 1956 until her death in 1999. When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, he wrote the book Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch, which was made into the film Iris in 2005. He was awarded the CBE in 1999.
He died aged 89 on 12 January 2015.