Jack Charles Turner was born in 1968 in Sydney, Australia. He is 165 cm (5'5") tall. He lives with his wife, Helena Fraser (St Antony's College at Oxford, class of 1995), their son, Oscar, daughters, Zoe Saffron Evie (born 20 September 2004), and Lola., in Geneva. He has also lived in Madrid, Tbilisi, and New York.
Jack Turner earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Studies from The University of Melbourne. In 1992, Turner was elected as an "Australia At Large" Rhodes Scholar and attended Oxford University. The Rhodes Scholarship allowed Turner to branch out and change his major from Classics to International Relations. He graduated from Magdalen College at Oxford with a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in International Relations in 1994. His masters thesis was entitled Soviet New Thinking and the Cambodian Conflict.
Two years after receiving his Fellowship, Turner took a break from academia and took a professional job in Madrid, Spain. After spending three months wearing a suit to work, he decided that writing was calling. He quit his job and moved with his wife to Tbilisi, Georgia to write his first book.
Throughout his studies, Turner was fascinated by how many times various spices appeared in historical references. That, combined with an early interest in spices, partly enhanced by his mother's spicy cooking, resulted in his decision to pursue the subject of spices further. The result is a book entitled Spice: The History of a Temptation, which traces spices back through time, through history, myth, archeology, and literature.
In the summer of 2000, he stated that he planned to base his next book on his experiences living in Caucasus.
Spice: The History of a Temptation. (Aug. 9, 2005). ISBN 0-375-70705-0. Paperback. Vintage; Reprint edition, 384 pages.
Spice: The History of a Temptation. (Mar. 21, 2005). ISBN 0-00-655173-4. Paperback. Harper Perennial; New Ed edition, 448 pages.
Spice: The History of a Temptation. (Aug. 10, 2004). ISBN 0-375-40721-9. Hardcover. Knopf, 384 pages.
Turner is the host of the What the Ancients Knew documentary series on The Science Channel. In the series, he visited key places from world history, focusing on the scientific, anthropologic, economic, and mechanical issues of the ancient civilizations and how their works influence modern life. The original three episodes covered the Romans, the Egyptians, and the Chinese. Later episodes covered the Japanese, the Greeks, and India.