Peter Cameron was born in Pompton Plains, New Jersey in 1959 and grew up there and in London, England. He spent two years attending the progressive American School in London, where he discovered the joys of reading, and began writing stories, poems, and plays. Cameron graduated from Hamilton College in New York State in 1982 with a BA in English Literature.
He sold his first short story to the New Yorker in 1983, and published ten more stories in that magazine during the next few years. This exposure facilitated the publication of his first book, a collection of stories titled One Way or Another, published by Harper & Row in 1986. One Way or Another was awarded a special citation by the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Book of Fiction. In 1988 Cameron was hired by Adam Moss to write a serial novel for the just-launched magazine 7 Days. This serial, which was written and published a chapter a week, became Leap Year, a comic novel of live and love in New York City in the twilight of the 1980s. It was published in 1989 by Harper & Row, which also published a second collection of stories, Far-flung, in 1991.
From 1990, Cameron stopped writing short fiction and turned his attention to novels. His second novel, The Weekend, was published in 1994 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, which also published a third novel, Andorra, in 1997. FSG published Cameron’s latest novel, The City of Your Final Destination, in May 2002. His stories and early novels are all available in paperback editions published by Plume. His work has been translated into a dozen languages. A film version of The Weekend, written and directed by Brian Skeet and starring Gena Rowlands and Brooke Shields, was released in 2000.
Cameron counts among his strongest influences the novels of British women writers such as Rose Macaulay, Barbara Pym, Penelope Mortimer and Elizabeth Taylor. He admires these writers for their elegant and accomplished use of language and their penetrating and sensitive exploration of personal life. He also admires the writing of the late William Maxwell for its natural elegance and deeply-felt humanity. James Salter and Denton Welch are also revered.
After arriving in New York City in 1982, Cameron worked for a year in the subsidiary rights department of St. Martin’s Press. Upon realising he did not want to pursue a career in publishing, he began doing administrative work for non-profit organisations. From 1983–1988, he worked for ‘The Trust for Public Land’, a land-conservation organisation, and from 1990–1998 he worked for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a legal organisation that protects and extends the civil rights of gay men, lesbians, and people with HIV/AIDS. In 1987 he taught writing at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and from 1990–1996 he taught writing in the MFA programme at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Since 1988, he has taught in Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA programme.
For the past twenty years, Cameron has lived on Tenth Street, in Greenwich Village.