Kristján Karlsson was born on January 26, 1922 at Eyvík in Tjörnes in Þingeyjarsýsla South. After completing highschool in 1942 he studied English literature at the University of Berkeley in California, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1945. He went to New York for graduate studies at the Columbia University, completing a M.A. degree in comparative literature in 1947.
Kristján was a member of the board of The Icelandic Literary Society in 1979 and The Patriotic Society, 1984-1985. He also sat on the commitee for the Memorial Fund of Björn Jónsson in 1985. He edited the periodical Islandica from 1948-1952, published by Cornell University in Ithaka. He was the editor of the literary magazine Andvari in 1984 and Skírnir, together with Sigurður Líndal from 1983-1986. Kristján was also co-editor of Nýtt Helgafell from 1956-59.
Kristján was a writer of poetry, short stories, essays and articles, as well as a translator. He furthermore edited a number of books. He instigated a variety of publications before publishing the poetry collection Kvæði (Poems) in 1976. He was awarded Davíðspenninn (the Pen of Davíð) in 1991 for Kvæði 90 (Poems 90) and The National Broadcasting Service Writer's Award a year later.
Kristján Karlsson died Tuesday August 5th 2014.