Poet Joan Murray was born in London and spent her childhood years at schools in London, the United States, Paris, and Ontario. She suffered from rheumatic fever as a child, the complications of which led to her death at 24. She studied dance and acting, appearing semi-professionally. She also studied with W.H. Auden at the New School; five years after her death, he selected her book Poems (1947) for the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. Murray died in Saranac Lake, New York. Her papers are held at Smith College. John Ashbery claimed Murray as an influence and provided the preface to Drafts, Fragments, and Poems: The Complete Poetry (2018), a collection of Murray's writings edited by Farnoosh Fathi and published by NYRB Poets.