Nancy Keesing was born in Sydney, Australia to a Jewish family. She attended Sydney Church of England Girls' Grammar School, the Frensham School, and was an art student at East Sydney Technical College. After a job as a clerk with the Australian Navy in World War II, Nancy graduated from the University of Sydney in 1947. She worked at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children until 1951, when she published her first book of poems. She became a prolific writer and a leading figure in Australian literary life for more than 40 years. She wrote or edited 26 books, which included short stories, memoirs, poetry, biography, children's books, and nonfiction. With her lifelong friend, Douglas Stewart, a writer and poet, she was among the first to collect folksongs from the Australian outback -- they collaborated on the anthologies Australian Bush Ballads (1955) and Old Bush Songs (1957). In 1969, she joined the Australian Society of Authors, editing the group's journal Australian Author for several years. In 1973, she was appointed to the new Literature Board of the Australian Council for the Arts (now known as the Australia Council), serving as chairwoman from 1974 to 1977. She was also a member of the National Book Council, the Kuringai CAE, and the Australian Jewish Historical Society. For several years she wrote book reviews for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age; she also wrote scripts for ABC Radio. In 1978, Nancy edited Shalom, an anthology of Australian-Jewish short stories. Her work has been included in many anthologies. Her memoir Garden Island People was published in 1975, and her autobiography, Riding the Elephant, was published in 1988. The Nancy Keesing Fellowship was founded by her husband, Dr. Mark Hertzberg, in her honor.