Lang was educated at Selkirk Grammar School, Loretto, and at the Edinburgh Academy, St Andrews University and finally Balliol College, Oxford, where he took a first class in the final classical schools in 1868, becoming a fellow and subsequently honorary fellow of Merton College.
He was first published in 1863 and from then on was a prolific writer and editor. Although mainly known for his Fairy Books he tackled everything from translations of Homer to Histories, Poetry, Romances and much else besides.
On 17th April 1875, he married Leonora Blanche Alleyne, youngest daughter of C. T. Alleyne of Clifton and Barbados. She was an integral part of the production on the Fairy Books adding her talents as author, collaborator, or translator of the Fairy Books which he edited.
Lang was one of the founders of "psychical research" (that is the understanding of events and abilities commonly described as psychic or paranormal) and his other writings on anthropology include The Book of Dreams and Ghosts (1897), Magic and Religion (1901) and The Secret of the Totem (1905). He served as President of the Society for Psychical Research in 1911.
Lang was active as a journalist in various ways, ranging from sparkling leader columns for the Daily News to miscellaneous articles for the Morning Post. For many years he was the literary editor of Longman's Magazine. At this point there was no critic more requested, whether for occasional articles and introductions to new editions or as editor of dainty reprints than one Andrew Lang.
Andrew Lang died of angina pectoris at the Tor-na-Coille Hotel in Banchory on 20th July, 1912. He was buried in the cathedral precincts at St Andrews.