Elizabeth Smither was born in New Plymouth, New Zealand in 1941. Her first collection of poems, Here come the clouds, was published in 1975. Since then, she has published thirteen collections, including the prize-winning A pattern of marching (New Zealand Book Awards 1990) and The Lark Quartet (Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2000), both published by Auckland University Press. Her fourteenth collection, Red Shoes - the result of her two-year term as Te Mata New Zealand poet laureate (the first woman to hold this position) - was published by Godwit 2003. A fifteenth collection, The Year of Adverbs, will be published by AUP in August 2007. Her poems have been widely published in Australia, Canada, Britain and America. A Question of Gravity, selected from her five most recent collections (up to and including Red Shoes) was her first UK publication.
She has also published four collections of short stories, the most recent being Listening to the Everly Brothers (Penguin, 2002) and four novels: First Blood (Penguin, 1983), Brother-love Sister-love (Penguin, 1986), The Sea Between Us (Penguin, 2003) which reached the finals of the Montana Book Awards, Fiction, 2004 and Different Kinds of Pleasure (Penguin, 2006).
In 2004 New Year's Honours list, Elizabeth Smither was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contribution to literature.