Goatly studied English at Jesus College, Oxford before working for Voluntary Service Overseas in Rwanda and Thailand. On returning to the United Kingdom he worked as a schoolteacher before obtaining a doctorate at University College, London and thereafter teaching at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, the National University of Singapore and Lingnan University, Hong Kong. He has written:
- The Language of Metaphors, and Critical Reading and Writing, published by Routledge
- Washing the Brain: the hidden ideology of metaphor, published by John Benjamins
- Explorations in Stylistics, published by Equinox
- Meaning and Humour, published by Cambridge University Press.
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