Born in 1937 in England, Parkin received his BA and MA in English from the University of Cambridge. His PhD in Drama is from Bristol University. He has published several academic books, numerous essays, and two books of poetry, Dancers in a Web and Yokohama Days, Kyoto Knights. He took up the Chair of English at the Chinese University in 1991, where he is a Fellow of Shaw College and University Orator. He is the founder president of the Association for Canadian Studies in Hong Kong.