Bill Manhire was born in Invercargill, published his first poetry while at university in Dunedin, and his first collection in 1972 while at university in London.
He has lived in Wellington since he joined the English Department at Victoria University in 1973. Under his leadership, a 6-credit course called 'Original Composition' has developed into a renowned master's course in creative writing. He was also instrumental in establishing Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters. Manhire is New Zealand's pre-eminent poet in the English-speaking world. His work is characterised by an extraordinary range in subject and style, a hyperawareness of nuance, and a wonderful mobility and suppleness in language, tone and mood.
As a practitioner and astute anthologist of poetry and fiction, and as a generous colleague of writers, he has played a leading role in the contemporary flowering of New Zealand literature.