Peter Calvocoressi was born in 1912 and educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, where he received a First in History. He was called to the Bar in 1935. During the Second World War he worked on Ultra Intelligence at Bletchley Park and later attended the Nuremberg trials. Since then he has mainly divided his time between publishing and international affairs.
For eleven years he was a partner in Chatto & Windus and the Hogarth Press and later Chief Executive of Penguin Books. He has been Reader in International Affairs at Sussex University and has served on the Councils of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the International Institute for Strategic Studies and Amnesty International, and on the UN Sub-Committee on Discrimination and Minorities.
He has been chairman of the London Library, the Africa Bureau and Open University Educational Enterprises Ltd and a Trustee of the Open University Development Fund. He has written some sixteen books mostly about the twentieth century