Trevor Nunn was educated at Downing College, Cambridge and in 1962 he won an ABC Director's Scholarship to the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, where, as Resident Director, his productions included The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Peer Gynt, and a musical version of Around the World in Eighty Days. In 1964 he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, was made an Associate Director in 1965, and became the company's youngest ver Artistic Director in 1968. He was responsible for running the RSC until he retired from his post in 1986.
His productions for the RSC included The Revenger's Tragedy, The Relapse, The Alchemist, Henry V, The Taming of the Screw, King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter's Tale, Henry VIII, Hamlet, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, All's Well That Ends Well, Once in a Lifetime, Three Sisters, June and the Paycock, Othello (the final production at The Other Place Theatre), The Blue Angel and Measure for Measure (the first two productions in the new Other Place Theatre). With his colleague, John Caird, he co-directed Nicholas Nickleby (winner of five Tony Awards); J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Les MisÚrables which won eight Tony Awards and has become the most performed musical in the world.
In 1982, he opened the RSC's new London home, the Barbican Theatre, with his production of Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts I and II. 1986 saw the opening of the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon which he conceived and for which he directed one of the first productions, The Fair Maid of the West.
Outside the RSC, he has directed the Tony award-winning Cats, Starlight Express, Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard for Andrew Lloyd Webber; Chess, The Baker's Wife, Timon of Athens and Heartbreak House. At Glyndebourne he has directed Idomeneo, Porgy and Bess, Cosi Fan Tutte and Peter Grimes and at the Royal Opera House, Porgy and Bess (revival) and Katya Kabanova. For the Royal National Theatre he has directed Arcadia, An Enemy of the People, Mutabilitie, Not About Nightingales, Oklahoma!, Betrayal, Summerfolk, The Merchant of Venice, Albert Speer and The Cherry Orchard.
His television work includes Antony and Cleopatra (BAFTA award), The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, Three Sisters, Nicholas Nickleby (Emmy Award), Word of Mouth, Othello and Porgy and Bess. He has directed three films, Hedda, Lady Jane and Twelfth Night. He was the Director of the Royal National Theatre until 2001.