Dr Perry was born in Aldershot, a military town best known to literature through its memorialisation in poems by John Betjeman. After local state schools he came to Oxford and took his undergraduate (1989) and graduate (1995) degrees at St Catherine's College. He was Oakeshott Junior Research Fellow, Lincoln College, 1995-8; and then moved to the University of Glasgow for five years, first as Lecturer and then Reader in English Literature. He came back to Oxford as a Fellow of Balliol and a Lecturer in the English Faculty in 2003.
His research interests are principally in the field of English Romantic poetry and thought, especially Coleridge and Wordsworth, and in post-Romantic English poetry, especially Tennyson, Eliot, Auden, Larkin, and their circles. He also has an interest in the modern history of criticism, reflected in his articles on A.C. Bradley, William Empson, F.W. Bateson, and M.H. Abrams. He is co-editor, with Christopher Ricks, of the journal Essays in Criticism: A Quarterly Journal of Literary Criticism (OUP), and the general editor of the new series, 21st-Century Oxford Authors (OUP).
His work for the next few years revolves around two main areas. The first is a study of some continuities in nineteenth and early twentieth century poetry and poetics, placing them within principally the context of social thought and political philosophy. Associated with this is an edition of Arnold for the 21st Century Oxford Authors, and editorial work on Empson's study of pastoral. The second is an edition of Coleridge's poems for Longman.
Outside Oxford, Dr Perry is a Trustee of the Wordsworth Trust, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Institute of English Studies in the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of London.
Dr Perry is a Fellow of the English Association, elected 2005.