Holland was born near Oxford and brought up in the village of Broadchalke near Salisbury, England. He obtained a double First in English at Queens' College, Cambridge, and afterwards studied shortly for a PhD at Oxford, taking Byron as his subject, before interrupting his postgraduate studies and moving to London.
He has adapted the works of Herodotus, Homer, Thucydides and Virgil for BBC Radio 4. His novels, including Attis and Deliver Us From Evil, mostly have a supernatural and horror element as well as being set in the past. He is also the author of three highly praised works of history, Rubicon, Persian Fire and Millennium.
He is the Chair of the Society of Authors.
He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.