Greenlaw was born in London into a family of doctors and scientists, but in 1973 when she was eleven years old, her family moved from London to a village in Essex. She has described the seven years there as "an interim time", with "memories of time being arrested, nothing much happening." She read modern arts at Kingston Polytechnic, studied at the London College of Printing and has an MA in art history from the Courtauld Institute. She has worked as an editor at Imperial College of Science and Technology and for the publishers Allison and Busby and subsequently Earthscan. She also worked as an arts administrator for the London Arts Board and the South Bank Centre. In 1994 she embarked upon a career as a freelance artist, critic and radio broadcaster. She has been writer in residence at the Science Museum, reader in residence at the Royal Festival Hall, and poet in residence at a firm of solicitors in London.
Her work is heavily informed by her interest in science and scientific enquiry, and by themes of displacement, loss and belonging. Critics have noted that her poetry is remarkable in its precision, and that her best poems contain a complexity and elusiveness that lead them to "appreciate with each re-reading".
Awards and recognition
Lavinia Greenlaw received an Eric Gregory Award in 1990, an Arts Council Writers’ Award in 1995, a Cholmondeley Award and a Society of Authors Travelling Scholarship. In 1994 she was also chosen as one of the 20 New Generation Poets. Her work has been shortlisted for a number of literary awards, including the Whitbread Book Award (now known as the Costa Book Awards) and the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. She won the French Prix du Premier Roman for her first novel, Mary George of Allnorthover, and, most notably, the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem for "A World Where News Travelled Slowly", the title poem from her second major collection.
- The Cost of Getting Lost in Space, Turret Books, 1991
- Love from a Foreign City, Slow Dancer Press, 1992, ISBN 978-1-871033-18-2
- Night Photograph (poetry; shortlisted for Whitbread and Forward Poetry Prizes), Faber and Faber, 1993, ISBN 978-0-571-16894-1
- A World Where News Travelled Slowly (poetry), Faber and Faber, 1997
- Mary George of Allnorthover (novel; Prix du Premier Roman Etranger), Flamingo, 9 July 2001, ISBN 978-0-618-09523-0
- Minsk (poetry; shortlisted for T. S. Eliot, Forward and Whitbread Poetry Prizes), Faber and Faber, 2003, ISBN 978-0-571-22271-1
- Thoughts of a Night Sea (photographs by Garry Fabian Miller), Merrell, 2003
- An Irresponsible Age, Fourth Estate, 2006, ISBN 978-0-00-715629-0
- The Importance of Music to Girls (non-fiction), Faber and Faber, 2007, ISBN 978-0-375-17454-4
- The Casual Perfect (poetry), Faber and Faber, 2011, ISBN 978-0-571-27816-9
- Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland, Notting Hill Editions, 2011, ISBN 978-190790318-2.
- David J. Constantine; H. Constantine, ed. (24 October 2006). After-Images:Modern Poetry in Translation. Translated by Lavinia Greenlaw; Tom Kuhn; Adrian Mitchell. MPT Books. ISBN 978-0-9545367-6-3.
- Noshi Gillani (15 September 2008). Poems. Translated by Lavinia Greenlaw. Enitharmon Press. ISBN 978-1-904634-75-1.
- "Ms Lavinia Greenlaw", Debrett's.
- "Poet Lavinia Greenlaw To Read at Library of Congress December 23, 1997". The Library of Congress. 23 December 1997. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- Adam Newey, "Poetry - Essex Girl", New Statesman, 13 October 2003; "Lavinia Greenlaw: Testament of middle youth", Independent, 6 January 2006
- Biography at The International Literary Quarterly.
- Mohit K. Ray (ed.), The Atlantic Companion to Literature in English, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2007, pp. 221-222.
- "Greenlaw, Lavinia (Elaine)", Encyclopedia.com.
- "Lavinia Greenlaw Bio". Archived from the original on 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- Biography, Lavinia Greenlaw website.
- "Goldsmiths College > Department of English & Comparative Literature". Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- "Lavinia Greenlaw - Poetry Archive". Retrieved 2007-06-14.; Allardice, Lisa (2001-03-19). "A girl in my head". New Statesman. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- "Books", Lavinia Greenlaw website.
- Raphael Costambeys-Kempczynsi, "'The world is round': mystification and the poetry of Lavinia Greenlaw", E-rea, 6.1, 2008.
- "Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog - film: Lavinia Greenlaw Profile". Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- Top of the Pops: The Story of 1976, BBC Four, 1 April 2011.
- The Joy of the Single, BBC Four, 26 November 2012.
- Lavinia Greenlaw website.
- Lavinia Greenlaw on Twitter
- Lavinia Greenlaw at FSG
- Lavinia Greenlaw at the Poetry Archive. Retrieved 26 October 2011.