Adrian Goldsworthy attended Westbourne School, Penarth, He went on to study ancient and modern history at St John's College, Oxford, completed a D.Phil in ancient military history from Oxford University in 1994, and then used his dissertation as the foundation of his first book, The Roman Army at War 100 BC – AD 200.
Goldsworthy was appointed a Junior Research Fellow at Cardiff University for two years, taught briefly at King's College London and was an assistant professor on the University of Notre Dame's London programme for six years. His expertise is in Roman history, but he also taught a course on the military history of the Second World War at the University of Notre Dame. Goldsworthy said that although he enjoyed teaching, he enjoyed writing more and now writes full-time.
Goldsworthy has appeared on History Channel documentaries and the television game show Time Commanders, serving as an expert on battles being fought by the contestants, and he gave a speech about Roman history and politics to the cast of a 2010 Liverpool production of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.
In 2010 Goldsworthy began writing a series of military novels - based not in Roman times but in the Napoleonic era and concentrating on Wellington's redcoat army, another period which he has great interest in. His first novel, True Soldier Gentlemen, was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2011 and was followed by Beat the Drums Slowly and Send Me Safely Back Again. The titles of each of his novels are taken from the lyrics of popular military songs of the period. Goldsworthy confesses that these books are in the genre of novels he himself likes to read.
Asked about his philosophy of life, Goldsworthy responded that he was "English, so obviously do not have a philosophy. I am a Christian, though, if you want to know about important beliefs." Goldsworthy lives in South Wales. He is also a regular contributing speaker to the Hadrianic Society.