David Crystal was born in 1941 and spent the early years of his life in Holyhead, North Wales. He went to St Mary's College, Liverpool, and University College London, where he read English and obtained his Ph.D. in 1966. He became lecturer in linguistics at University College, Bangor, and from 1965 to 1985 was at the University of Reading, where he was Professor of Linguistic Science for several years. His research interests are mainly in English language studies and the applications of linguistics, and in the development of book and electronic reference materials. He is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and a past president of the Society of Indexers. David Crystal has published over 50 books, including Linguistics (Penguin 1971, second edition 1985), A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, Clinical Linguistics, Who Cares About English Usage? (Penguin 1984; new edition 2000), The English Language (Penguin 1988), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, The Penguin Dictionary of Language (Penguin 1999), Language Death, Words on Words, a collection of quotations on language and languages, written in collaboration with Hilary Crystal and Shakespeare's Words, written in collaboration with Ben Crystal. He is also the editor of the Cambridge family of general encyclopedias.
David Crystal now lives in Holyhead, where he works as a writer, lecturer and consultant on language and linguistics, and a reference books editor. He is also a frequent broadcaster. In June 1995 he was awarded the OBE for services to the English language.