Born in Barcelona, he studied law. He has always been an exemplary intellectual and a courageous cultural agitator, and has devoted himself to literature in all its facets: as a writer, literary critic and publisher.
He has written numerous works, especially essays and memoirs, including: Notas sobre literatura española contemporánea, (1955); Poesia catalana del segle XX, (1963), with Joaquim Molas; Ocho siglos de poesía catalana (1969), with J. Molas; Nueve novísimos poetas españoles (1970); Iniciació a la poesia de Salvador Espriu (Taurus essay award, 1970); Josep Pla o la raó narrativa (1978); Antologia general de la poesia catalana (1979); Memòries poc formals d’un editor literari, dins Edicions 62, vint-i-cinc anys (1962-1987) (1988); Els escenaris de la memòria (1988); Vuit segles de poesia catalana (2005), with J.Molas; Dietari de 1973 (2007), and Seductors, il·lustrats i visionaris (2009), a portrait of the leading literary figures of his generation.
He was the first president of the Association of Writers in the Catalan Language (1978-1983), a member of the Association Internationale de la Critique Littéraire in Paris, the Government of Catalonia’s Advisory Council on Culture, the PEN Club and the European Community of Writers (COMES). He has been the literary director of Edicions 62 and Edicions Península, as well as a director and CEO of Group 62 (2002). Since 2006 he has been Dean of the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes. The awards he has received include the Gaziel award for journalism (1977), the Josep Pla prose award (1977), the Joanot Martorell narrative award (1987), the Crítica Serra d’Or award (1988 and 2010) and Lletra d’Or award (1989) and the National Culture Award of Catalonia (2009). He has also received the National Prize for Catalan Literature (1989) and the National Prize for Spanish Letters (2010). He has been distinguished with the Government of Catalonia’s Gold Medal and the Creu de Sant Jordi.
Josep Maria Castellet has received the 2001 LiberPress Award for his exemplary and intense intellectual and literary life, during which he has made a deep study of literary currents in our country. He is an essential figure for Catalan letters, since it can be said that he preserves the great memory of Catalan literary life, faithfully and sensitively.