Jonathan Harvey was born in Liverpool in 1968, and was educated at Hull University before moving to London, where he worked for four years as a special-needs teacher at a comprehensive school in Thamesmead, the area where his film Beautiful Thing is set. He started writing at the age of 16, with his play The Cherry Blossom Tree. He continued writing whilst studying and teaching, and it was for his play Wildfire that he was awarded an attachment to the National Theatre's Studio at the end of 1992, prompting him to give up his teaching post and write full-time. He now lives in London with his boyfriend.
He is known for his works for Shameless.