After receiving his B.A. from Oxford, Nicholas Jenkins came to the United States as a Harkness Fellow. He did postgraduate work at Columbia and was then employed as an editor and writer at ARTnews magazine in New York. He received a D.Phil. from Oxford and, after teaching in the Harvard English Department for two years, where he co-directed the "Modernism in its Contexts" seminar at the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies, he joined the Stanford English Department.
Jenkins is the Primary Investigator for Kindred Britain, described by the Economist as "an amazing digital humanities website that traces relations between 30,000 British people."
He has edited a Lincoln Kirstein Reader and co-edited and contributed to three volumes of Oxford University Press's "Auden Studies" series. He is General Editor of the Princeton University Press's "Facing Pages" translation series, and he has contributed essays and reviews to periodicals that include the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review, the New Republic, the New Yorker, Raritan and the Yale Review.
Nicholas Jenkins is Co-Chair of the W. H. Auden Society and the Literary Executor of the poet, scholar and impresario Lincoln Kirstein, co-founder with George Balanchine of the New York City Ballet.