Patterson was born in Rome to a Swedish Lutheran mother and Scottish Presbyterian father who both regularly attended church services. After graduating with first-class honours in English Language and Literature from Durham University (Van Mildert) and then undertaking an MA at the University of East Anglia, Patterson initially worked in publishing. From 1990, she was the literary programmer at the Southbank Centre, presenting hundreds of literary events. In 1998, she ran the Poetry Society’s National Lottery-funded Poetry Places scheme, enabling poetry residencies and placements. In 2000 she was appointed Director of the Poetry Society.
After 1998, Patterson worked as a freelance journalist contributing to The Observer, The Sunday Times and magazines including Time, The Spectator and the New Statesman. She has contributed to a number of books, including The Cambridge Guide To Women’s Writing and the Forward Poetry Anthology 2001, in addition to The Huffington Post.
Patterson joined The Independent in 2003, writing on politics, society, culture, books, travel and the arts. She was responsible for the paper's weekly Arts interview, and had periods there as deputy literary editor and assistant comment editor. She was made redundant from The Independent in 2013 as a result of cuts in its editorial budget.
Patterson has investigated nursing, a profession she has personally found uncaring, in a series of articles for The Independent, and a programme for BBC Radio 4's Four Thoughts series, an essay which Guardian reviewer Elisabeth Mahoney found "compellingly written and studded with rhetorical flourishes and unpalatable assertions". The investigative work on nursing, which had its origins in Patterson's experience of having six operations in eight years resulting from breast cancer, led in 2013 to her being short-listed for the Orwell Prize (Journalism). She is a regular participant in The Review Show (BBC Two) as a member of its panel.
Her book The Art of Not Falling Apart was published in May 2018.
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- "About". Christina Patterson's website. Archived from the original on 15 October 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- "Christina Patterson". Nottingham Trent University. Archived from the original on 23 December 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
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- Brook, Stephen (14 March 2007). "Independent reshuffles staff". The Guardian.
- Patterson, Christina (10 April 2012). "A crisis in nursing: Six operations, six stays in hospital – and six first-hand experiences of the care that doesn't care enough". The Independent.
- "Christina Patterson: Writer and columnist, The Independent", Orwell Prize short list biography
- Mahony, Elisabeth (28 April 2011). "Radio review: Four Thought". The Guardian.
- Akbar, Arifa (17 April 2013). "2013 Orwell prize for books shortlist revealed". The Independent.
- "Orwell Prize 2013 Shortlists Announced". The Orwell Prize. 17 April 2013.
- "Christina Patterson". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- Patterson, Christina (4 May 2018). "All by myself: the joys of being single". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 June 2018.