A great-great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer and founder of the Guinness family, Guinness was born in Hsiang Cheng, China, where his parents were medical missionaries. In 1943, he survived the Henan famine in which five million died, including his two brothers. He returned to England in 1951 when most foreigners left China after the climax of the Chinese Revolution in 1949.
He received a B.D. (honours) from University of London in 1966 and a D.Phil from Oriel College, Oxford in 1981.
In 1984 Guinness came to the United States, where he was first a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and then a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution. From 1985-88 he was Executive Director of the Williamsburg Charter Foundation, and the lead drafter of the Williamsburg Charter, celebrating the genius of the First Amendment and setting out the signers' vision of a civil public square.
In 1991, Guinness founded the Trinity Forum, an organization that hosts forums for senior leaders in business and politics. He served as a senior fellow at The Trinity Forum from 1991—2004, and has also spoken widely at many universities, and business and political conferences throughout the world. Guinness has written or edited more than twenty five books, including Invitation to the Classics, The American Hour, The Call, and Long Journey Home. His most recent book is "The Case for Civility" (Harper One, 2008).
He currently lives in McLean, Virginia with his wife Jenny.