Fleur Adcock was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and spent part of her childhood in England. Adcock returned to New Zealand as a young woman, where she studied classics at the University of Wellington and taught at the University of Otago. In 1963, Adcock returned to England, working first as a librarian before turning fulltime to writing.
Adcock’s poetry frequently investigates questions of identity and belonging: individual poems consider matters of ancestry, geography and displacement, and the natural worlds of England and New Zealand. Her style is often described as cool, observational and slyly ironice, and has been likened to Marianne Moore’s. Adcock is the author of over ten collections of poetry, including Eye of the Hurricane (1964), The Inner Harbour (1979), The Incident Book (1986), Poems 1960-2000 (2000), Dragon Talk (2010), and Glass Wings (2013). A noted translator, she has translated Medieval poetry, including Hugh Primas, and the work of Romanian writers such as Grete Tartler and Daniela Crasnaru. She was editor for the Oxford Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry (1982), the Faber Book of 20th Century Women's Poetry (1987), and The Oxford Book of Creatures (with Jacqueline Simms, 1995).
Adcock’s numerous honors and awards include the New Zealand National Book Award, the Cholmondeley Award, the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. In 2008 she was awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.