Patricia Beer was born in Exmouth, Devonshire, into a family of Plymouth Brethren, a nonconformist evangelical Christian sect. As a young adult, she later moved away from her religious background. She attended Exmouth Grammar School before reading English at Exeter University. She went on to Oxford for her BLitt degree and after World War II, spent seven years in Italy, teaching English literature at the University of Padua, the British Institute, and the Ministero Aeronautica in Rome. In 1953, she returned to England and became senior lecturer in English at Goldsmiths' College, London. After 1968, she devoted herself full- time to writing. Besides poetry, her publications included Mrs. Beer's House (1968), an acclaimed memoir of her childhood and family; Reader: I Married Him (1974), a collection of literary criticism; and Moon's Ottery (1978), a novel set in 16th-century Devon. She also edited several major anthologies and contributed to literary reviews.
She was married twice, first to the writer P.N. Furbank, and then to Damien Parsons, an architect, with whom she settled again in Devon. Her Collected Poems was published in 1988.