Born in London, J.R. Thornton graduated from Harvard in 2014 where he studied History, English and Chinese. He lived in Beijing as a teenager, returning to undertake a fellowship at the International Writer's Center at Beijing Normal University. An internationally ranked tennis player as a junior, he later competed for the Harvard men’s team and on the professional circuit. His debut novel, Beautiful Country, was published by Harper Collins in 2016 and later optioned as a film by WME/IMG Original Content. Since completing a M.A. in international relations at Tsinghua University as part of the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars, J.R. has been at work on a second novel titled Lucien.