Thomas Hinde was born in Felixstowe, Suffolk, and educated at Winchester School and University College, Oxford. After service in the Royal Navy, he worked briefly for the Inland Revenue and then for the Shell Petroleum Company, before becoming a full-time writer. He became a baronet on the death of his father in 1955. He is married to Susan Chitty.
His first novel, Mr Nicholas, was published in 1953. His second, Happy As Larry, the story of a disaffected, unemployable, aspiring writer with a failed marriage, led critics to associate him with the Angry Young Men movement. An excerpt from Happy As Larry appeared in the popular paperback anthology The Beat Generation and the Angry Young Men.
Hinde published thirteen further novels before turning to non-fiction. Since 1980, he has published books on English stately homes and gardens, English court life, and the forests of Britain, as well as histories of English schools.