Elizabeth Bartlett was born in the mining region of Kent and left school at an early age to become a factory worker and help support her family. In 1943, she married Denis Perkins. She later worked as a medical secretary, home aide, and tutor. She had some early success as a poet when her verses appeared in the journal Poetry London when she was 19, and while she continued to write, her work was not published again until she was in her mid-50s. Her work is noted for its painful insights into the physical side of life, including illness. Her first collection was A Lifetime of Dying: Poems 1942–1979 (1979), and other works included The Czar is Dead (1986), Instead of a Mass (1991), and Two Women Dancing: New & Selected Poems (1995). Her later publications included Appetites of Love (2001) and Mrs Perkins and Oedipus (2004).