Born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia, Ted Blain began writing stories at age eight. As an undergraduate at Washington and Lee University, he studied fiction with James Boatwright, satire with John Evans, romantic poetry with Sidney Coulling, and Shakespeare with George Ray—courses and professors who profoundly shaped his interests in writing and teaching. In graduate school at the University of Virginia he specialized in creative writing under the guidance of Ann Beattie, whose teaching and writing also inspired his later work. Outside the classroom his boyhood reading of the Hardy Boys and Rick Brandt adventures, coupled with later recreational reading of the 87th Precinct novels of Ed McBain, served as tutorials in how to structure and pace mystery stories. Some of the writers whose work he’s been enjoying recently include Mark Twain, Henry James, William Faulkner, Charles Dickens, Cormac McCarthy, Michael Chabon, Toni Morrison, Jeannette Walls, Michael Pollan, and Mark Edmundson.
He began his teaching career in 1976 at Berry Academy outside Rome, Georgia, but in 1982 he returned to his native Virginia to teach at Woodberry Forest School, where five years later he became chairman of the English Department, a position that he still holds today. Outside the classroom he has indulged a life-long love of theater by directing nearly one play per year during his tenure at the school. Favorite shows include Henry IV Part 1, How the Other Half Loves, Mister Roberts, Equus, Lend Me a Tenor, A Few Good Men, The Producers, Sylvia, God of Carnage, Big River, Damn Yankees, Farragut North, and Spamalot. He likes to claim that he made his Broadway debut in the summer of 2012 when James Corden summoned him onto the stage for a few minutes of humiliation during a matinee of One Man, Two Guvnors.
In his writing life he is a member of the Authors Guild and the Mystery Writers of America. His first novel, Passion Play, was one of the five finalists for the Edgar Award for Best First American Novel and was chosen as a main selection of the Mysterious Book Club. In his academic life at Woodberry Forest he has been named to the Rufus W. Higginbotham Mastership, 1984-87; the James C. Ambler Chair of English, 1987-present; and has won the George O'Connor Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1990, 2002, and 2011.