David Miller is the son of Archibald (a foundry manager) and Florence (a milliner whose maiden name was Severino). He attended South Melbourne Technical School and later Middlesex Polytechnic (now Middlesex University), 1978-82. In Melbourne he was influenced by modern poetry and fiction, including the works of Malcolm Lowrey, Jack Kerouac, and Carl Sandburg. The seventeenth-century English metaphysical poets (including John Donne and George Herbert) were also important influences, as were the works of Henry David Thoreau and the French poet Gerard de Nerval.
Miller left Australia in 1972 and is now a British citizen. He sees himself as 'in some sense out of place and out of time. Dislocated - quite literally, dislocated - from where I am. For a British writer whose formative years were spent in Australia, and who has related himself mostly to American writing from an early age, the idea of "belonging" to any national tradition is peculiarly vexing.' Non-literary influences, visual art and music, have also been important in his writing. He has also written critical works including Malcolm Lowry and the Voyage That Never Ends (London: Enitharmon Press, 1976). His poetry has been published in pamphlet and broadsheet form; for example Rain (1974), a poem printed on one folded sheet, like a card.