John Collins was born in Bath, the son of a tailor. He entered the tailoring profession himself in the specialised role of corset maker but did not stay long, abandoning this for a career on the stage. He made many appearances in tragedy and comedy parts first in Bath, later in other parts of England and also in Dublin where he made his mark in comic opera.
In 1793 he settled vin Birmingham where, living with his niece, a Miss Brent, he acquired an interest in the Birmingham Chronicle newspaper. Not much is known about his personal life other than that he was married to a woman of great beauty who predeceased him and had no children. He died in Birmingham, aged 66.
Among his output was The Brush, a collection of songs which he performed himself to general acclaim. Shortly before he died, he published a collection of his poems, entitled Scripscrapologia. His poetry includes Tomorrow, The Desponding Negro, Good Queen Bess and Date Obolum Belisario.