Adam Foulds est né en 1974, a fréquenté l’école Bancroft’s School à Londres, a fait des études d’anglais au St Catherine’s College à Oxford et a passé sa maîtrise en écriture créative à l’Université d’East Anglia en 2001. Il vit au sud de Londres.
Son premier roman, The Truth about these strange times (2007) a reçu en 2008 le prix du jeune auteur de l’année décerné par le Sunday Times, et le Betty Trask Award. Par la suite, il a écrit un long poème narratif, The Broken Word (2008), qui parle de la révolte des Mau Mau dans les années 1950 au Kenya. Ce poème a été sélectionné en 2008 pour le John-Lewellyn-Rhys Memorial Prize et en 2009 pour prix du jeune auteur de l’année par le Sunday Times. Il a également reçu le prix Somerset Maugham et, en 2008, le Costa Poetry Award. The Quickening Maze (2009 ; « Le labyrinthe d’une vie », 2017, pour la traduction française) est son deuxième roman. Ce puissant récit romancé autour de l’internement en 1840 du poète John Clare dans un hôpital psychiatrique a été nominé pour le Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009. En 2010, Adam Foulds a été nommé Sociétaire (Fellow, en anglais) de la Royal Society of Literature, institution londonienne équivalente de l’Académie française.
John walked on through the forest, passing charcoal burners sitting inside their huts, ancient things of poles walled with cut turf, old as any dwelling probably. They had to spend days out there, making sure the fires didn’t catch, but slowly ate down to coal the wood piled under covers. The smoke that rose was sweet, much sweeter than at the lime kilns where John had worked off and on. He saw them look up and stare out of their darkness and risked a greeting doffing of his hat, but they didn’t move. Then, half a mile away, in a clearing there were vardas, painted caravans, tethered horses, and children, and a smoking fire. A little terrier caught the scent of John and stood with its four feet planted, leaning towards him, as if in italics, to bark. An old woman seated near the fire, a blanket around her shoulders, looked up. John didn’t move or say anything. ‘Good day to you,’ she said. ‘Good day,’ John answered, and then to let her know he knew them, was a friend, said, ‘Cushti hatchintan.’ She raised her eyebrows at that. ‘It is. It is a good spot. You rokkers Romany then, do you?’ ‘Somewhat, I do. I was often with the gypsies near my hatchintan, in Northamptonshire. We had many long nights. They taught me to fiddle their tunes and such. Abraham Smith, and Phoebe. You know them?’ ‘We’re Smiths here, but I don’t know your crew. I haven’t been into that county, or had them here. This is a good spot,’ she raised an arm to gesture at it. ‘Plenty of land and no one pushing you off it. And the forest creatures, lots of hotchiwitchis to eat in winter. This is one commons that don’t seem to be getting ate up.’ John shook his head and answered as one weary elder to another. ‘It’s criminal what is nominated law now. Theft only, taking the common land from the people. I remember when they came to our village with their telescopes to measure and fence and parcel out. The gypsies then were driven out. The poor also.’