John White was born in Knebworth, Hertfordshire, in 1941. After school in NW London he achieved a scholarship to Harrow Collage of Art. He then took up an apprenticeship with the Forestry Commission in Lincolnshire, before qualifying for a place at the FC Forester Training School at Benmore in Argyllshire to study botany and dendrology. He remained with the Forestry Commission, joining their research division in 1962 and following the late Alan Mitchell as Research Dendrologist. He retired in 1996. He has contributed to many publications on the subject of northern hemisphere trees, and illustrated his own Forest and Woodland Trees for OUP in 1995.