Donald Potter was born in New Jersey in 1938. He attended Swarthmore College and American University, receiving a B.A. degree in history in 1960. He did postgraduate work at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London and Taiwan National University, receiving an M.A. degree in Chinese from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. His biographies of Wen T'i-Jen, Ch'ien Shih-sheng, Wen Chen-meng, and Han K'uang were published in the Dictionary of Ming Biography by the Columbia University Press in 1977. In 1968 and 1969 he taught history at the State University of New York, Albany, and at Wisconsin State University, Superior, Wisconsin. He moved to Japan in 1970 and was a lecturer in English at the Law College of Nihon University until 1976. It was during this period that he learned go and became a high-dan amateur player. In 1976 he retired to his farms in Tasmania. He now resides in Sydney, Australia.