Mark Kurlansky was born in Hartford, Connecticut. After receiving a BA in Theater from Butler University in 1970, and refusing to serve in the military, Kurlansky worked in New York as a playwright, having a number of off-off Broadway productions, and as a playwright-in-residence at Brooklyn College. He won the 1972 Earplay award for best radio play of the year.
He worked many other jobs including as a commercial fisherman, a dock worker, a paralegal, a cook and a pastry chef.
In the mid 1970s, unhappy with the direction New York theater was taking, he turned to journalism, an early interest --- he had been an editor on his high school newspaper. From 1976 to 1991 he worked as a foreign correspondent for The International Herald Tribune, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Based in Paris and then Mexico, he reported on Europe, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
His articles have appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The International Herald Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, Partisan Review, Harper's, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Audubon Magazine, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Bon Apetit and Parade.
In addition to numerous guest lectures at Columbia University School of Journalism, Yale University, Colby College, Grinnell College, the University of Dayton and various other schools, he has taught a two week creative writing class in Assisi, Italy, a one week intensive nonfiction workshop in Devon, England for the Arvon Foundation, and has guest lectured all over the world on history, writing, environmental issues and other subjects. In Spring 2007 he was the Harman writer-in-residence at Baruch College teaching a fourteen week honors course titled “Journalism and the Literary Imagination.” His books have been translated into 25 languages and he often illustrates them himself.
He has had 26 works of fiction, nonfiction and children's books published, including COD, SALT, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World, THE BIG OYSTER, THE LAST FISH TALE, THE FOOD OF A YOUNGER LAND, THE EASTERN STARS and EDIBLE STORIES. He lives in New York City. He is the recipient of a Bon Appétit American Food and Entertaining Award for Food Writer of the Year, and the Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award for Food Book of the Year.