Ion Negoitescu was born in Cluj-Napoca. After a relative happy childhood, he applies in 1940 for "Constantin Angelescu" High School, then, at Lucian Blaga's encouragement, he goes to college in Cluj and Sibiu, where he studies literature and philosophy.
He graduates in 1946. He makes his literary debut in 1937 in the pages of "Natiunea Romana", a magazine published in Cluj-Napoca. In 1941 publishes a symbolist novel called Povestea trista a lui Ramon Ocg (The sad story of Ramon Ocg), based on the life of Ramon Navarro, the flamboyant gay Hollywood star in the 1920s.
He starts collaborating at the Sibiu students association's literary magazine "Curtile dorului", where Radu Stanca also writes. Between January to August 1945, he becomes Editor-in-Chief of "Revista Cercului Literar", a cultural monthly from Sibiu. Among contributors are Lucian Blaga (his mentor), Cornel Regman, Radu Stanca and Nicolae Balota, all well-known Romanian writers.
In 1946 he attempts with little success to publish the "Euphorion" review at Cluj. In 1947 Negoitescu wins the "Grand Prix for young writers", awarded annually by the Royal Foundations Publishing House, for his manuscript volume, titled Poeti romani (Romanian Poets), and for Teorie a poeziei (A Theory of Poetics), both still not published, after they disappeared in the Securitate archives, where they still can't be found.
In 1956 his name reappears in the literary press, after an absence of 8 years, and in 1958 he is accused in the pages of "Scanteia" (the daily of the Romanian Communist Party) of "aestheticism" and is "unmasked" for taking part in "the undermining of the socialist literature".
He is arrested in 1961 and is imprisoned at Jilava penitentiary, from where he is released in 1964. In 1965 he obtains a job at "Luceafarul" as editor, which he quits in 1971. In 1966, he publishes Scriitori moderni (Modern Writers), and in 1968 Poezia lui Eminescu (Poetry of Eminescu) followed by Engrame (Engrame) in 1975 and Analize si sinteze (Analyses and Synthesis), in 1976.
In 1971, his book Lampa lui Aladin (Aladin's Lamp) is banned and the copies already printed are destroyed. Reaching the point of a deep personal despair, he tries to commit suicide in protest on August 23rd, 1974.
On March 3rd, 1977, along with Paul Goma and other dissident writers and artists, he signs a protest letter, that is read at Radio Free Europe. In short time he is arrested by Securitate.
As a result of Western and American official protests against the action taken by the communist regime, he is freed and in 1980 he is allowed to leave Romania. He settles in Germany, initially in Cologne where he teaches a course of Romanian literature at Münster University, from 1982 to 1983.
He moves to Munich where he edits "Caietul de literatura" and the ex-patriate literary magazine "Dialog", which is published in Ditzenbach. "Dialog" becomes an open forum for Romanian writers from Diaspora. He returns to Romania in 1990, but only for two days. After 1991, his works are published again in many cultural and literary magazines.
Between 1991-92 he starts working on his autobiography, and finishes writing only the first two chapters, which are published by "Apostrof" Press from Cluj-Napoca - under the name of Straja Dragonilor (Guarding the Dragons). In an interview given to "Apostrof" review, Negoitescu said: "My only remaining failure waiting for me is that I could die before finishing my Autobiography."
Ion Negoitescu died in Munich. His ashes are buried in his family plot, in a Cluj cemetery, "in the heart of the city".