Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, in the southeast of Ireland in 1955. His first novel The South was finished in 1986 but not published until 1990, being turned down in the meantime by most English publishers. His first book, Walking Along the Border with photographs by Tony O'Shea, was published in 1987. In September 1987 he began work on his second novel The Heather Blazing. In 1988 he spent a year in Barcelona where he wrote Homage to Barcelona and renewed his acquintance with the city and with certain villages in the Pyrenees where The South is set and where he has spent a great deal of time since then.
In Ireland, during these years he wrote regularly for 'The Sunday Independent', first as drama critic and television critic and later as political commentator. In 1994 he began to write for The London Review of Books and has since then been a regular contributor. His 'Love In a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar' ( Picador, March 2002) is made up mainly of pieces from the London Review of Books. In 2000 he became a Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at New York Public Library, working mainly on the Lady Gregory papers there. This resulted in 'Lady Gregory's Toothbrush', a section of which appeared in The New York Review of Books in August 2001.
Colm Toibin has given workshops and masterclasses at Listowel Writers Week, The Arvon Foundation and The American University at Washington DC. He has also taught at the MFA program at the New School in Manhattan. His books have been translated into eighteen languages.