Hwas a graduate of Boston Latin School. A Lowell House resident at Harvard, he received his A.B., magna cum laude, in 1962. He remained at Harvard for his graduate studies, completing his A.M. in English and American literature and language in 1963 and his Ph.D. in 1969. He spent five of those years in Lowell House as House librarian and English tutor, and also taught for two years at the University of California, Berkeley, as an assistant professor of rhetoric.
He then taught literature at the University of Haifa, Israel, and the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, before retiring from academia in 1976 to devote himself full-time to painting.
An award-winning artist, he favored a Surrealist style and Old Testament religious motifs and was especially interested in Middle Eastern history and the Jewish Revolts of the first and second centuries A.D. His work is in the permanent collections of the Fogg Art Museum, Miami (Florida) City Hall, and the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, in New York City.
He was a dedicated diarist and insatiable reader, devouring three to five books a week for thirty years, and in later years operated a successful online antiquarian bookselling business.
He was survived by a brother, Allan.