Gabriel Ferrater was born in 1922 in Reus, near Tarragona, where his father and uncles were wine exporters. Towards the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), his family moved to France where he spent three years, partly under the German Occupation.
Although he had written surrealist poems in French (and corresponded with Sartre) before the age of 20, he did not start writing poetry seriously until his mid-thirties. Prior to that, in the 1940s, he worked for a couple of years in the family business and then went to university to study mathematics.
Most of his poetry was written between 1957 and 1963, and a volume of collected poems was published in 1968. In the last few years of his life, he turned to the study of linguistics, a subject which he taught with great success at the new Autonomous University of Barcelona.
He committed suicide in 1972, shortly before his fiftieth birthday.