A brief illustrated biography is available on the Tate website.
The most recent books on Turner’s life are: Anthony Bailey, Standing in the Sun: A Life of J.M.W. Turner, 1997, paperback edition 2013, and James Hamilton, Turner: A Life, 1997, paperback edition 1998; and Franny Moyle, The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner, 2016.
Young Mr Turner, the first part of the eagerly awaited new biography by Eric Shanes, is now published by Yale University Press in conjunction with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
There are numerous published chronologies of Turner’s life and work, but many of these are out of date as a result of new research.
The most reliable of the published chronologies at present is that contained in the exhibition catalogue J.M.W. Turner edited by Ian Warrell, Tate Publishing, 2007.
A good online chronology can be found on the Tate website.
A Brief Turner Chronology
Birth of Turner in Maiden Lane, possibly on 23 April.
Baptised at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, on 14 May.
Death of younger sister, Mary Ann, aged 4.
Starts attending classes at the Royal Academy Schools.
Watercolour accepted by the Royal Academy for the first time: The Archbishop’s Palace, Lambeth.
Outbreak of war between Britain and France.
Oil painting accepted by the Royal Academy for the first time: Fishermen at Sea.
Elected an Associate member of the Royal Academy.
Moves from his father’s house in Covent Garden to Harley Street.
Mother admitted to Bethlem Hospital.
Elected a full member of the Royal Academy and presents Dolbadern Castle as his ‘Diploma picture’.
Makes the first of many visits to France and Switzerland.
Death of Turner’s mother in Bethlem Hospital.
Turner opens a gallery in his own house to show his pictures
Elected Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. Starts issuing his Liber Studiorum.
Moves round the corner from Harley Street to Queen Anne Street West, retaining his gallery.
Paints Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army crossing the Alps.
Paints Dido building Carthage and Crossing the Brook.
Defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and return of peace to Europe.
First of several visits to the Low Countries and Germany.
First of several visits to Italy.
Creates a new gallery at his house.
Uses a studio in Rome and exhibits three paintings there.
Paints Ulysses deriding Polyphemus.
Death of Turner’s father.
Witnesses the burning of the Houses of Parliament.
Makes a tour which includes Copenhagen, Berlin and Prague.
Criticism of Turner’s art in the press arouses the anger of the 17-year-old John Ruskin.
Paints The Fighting Temeraire.
Ruskin begins publishing Modern Painters in Turner’s defence.
Paints Rain, Steam, and Speed.
Last trip abroad, to the north French coast.
Serves as Acting President of the Royal Academy during the illness of the President.
Exhibits for the last time at the Royal Academy.
Death of Turner in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, on 19 December.
Buried in St Paul’s Cathedral on 30 December.