Jennifer Strauss, poet, academic, teacher and critic, grew up on a dairy farm. She graduated with honours in English from the University of Melbourne in 1954 where her poetry was published by the Melbourne University Magazine, attended the University of Glasgow for postgraduate study, and received her PhD from Monash University in 1991. She taught at the universities of New England and Melbourne and, from 1964 on, at Monash University where she became an Associate Professor in the Department of English. On her retirement in 1998, Strauss was made an Honorary Senior Research Fellow. Throughout her academic life, Strauss demonstrated her commitment to social issues through office-bearing roles in professional and union bodies and reflected these themes in her poetry. Strauss also lived for various periods in Great Britain (where she taught at a girls' grammar school), the United States, Canada and Germany. She has also been involved in a series for Video Classroom (1984-1993), discussing with Alan Dilnot (q.v.) various novels such as Potok's The Chosen and Austen's Emma, and the forms of poetry.
The author of a number of critical works, in particular on the poetry of Judith Wright and Gwen Harwood, and the editor of The Collected Verse of Mary Gilmore (2004-2007), Strauss's own poetry has been published in many journals and in several collections, and her work has been widely anthologised. She has written a number of poems that 'are already anthology classics and are likely to remain so' (Geoff Page, 1995). Recurrent themes in Strauss's writing are memories of a country childhood; motherhood and domestic issues; depression and suicide (especially among females); anti-war concerns; and the re-interpretation of old stories and myths.