Born in Manchester, British poet and playwright John Anthony (Tony) Connor left school at 14 and spent 26 years as a textile designer, also serving in the Royal Army. He earned an MA at the University of Manchester. With poet Robin Skelton and painter Michael Snow, Connor founded the Peterloo Group of Manchester writers and artists.
 
Connor’s working-class domestic and social narratives explore themes of exile and personal history. In a review of Connor’s earlier New and Selected Poems (1982) for the Hudson Review, poet Dana Gioia observed, “Connor does not simply report events. He vividly recreates them, shaping each scene with the skill and care of a novelist … his work remains clear-headed, intelligent and immensely readable.” Connor is the author of numerous collections, including With Love Somehow (1962), In the Happy Valley (1971), and Things Unsaid: New and Selected Poems 1960–2005 (2006). His tenth book of poems is The Empty Air (2012).
 
In 1974, Connor was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. A professor emeritus of English at Wesleyan University, Connor also taught at Amherst College and Bolton Technical College, in Manchester. He lives in London and Middletown, Connecticut. The McPherson Library at the University of Victoria holds a selection of his papers.