Clive James was born and schooled in Sydney. He completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney, where he was literary editor of Honi Soit and an active participant in student life, and then worked as an assistant editor at the Sydney Morning Herald in 1961. In 1962, James moved to England and pursued a second degree at Cambridge University. Here he edited several magazines and, in 1966, won election to the presidency of Cambridge's illustrious revue company, Footlights.
Following his university education, James worked as a freelance writer and, from 1972 to 1982, was a television critic for the Observer. James began his successful BBC television career in 1983 with 'The Late Clive James' and also appeared in such shows as 'Clive James on Television' and 'Saturday Night People'. Since then, his various television shows have offered viewers performances, travelogues and interviews. Most recently, James has embraced the internet to circulate his interviews and offer advice for Australians travelling in Britain.
Since the early 1970s James has published poetry, several collections of criticism, travel writing, novels and several volumes of autobiography. While he is not often acknowledged for the quality of his exuberant writing, his style and humour, which some regard as quintessentially Australian, ensure that he remains an important member of a small group of high-profile expatriates.
In 2013, Picador published James' translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy.