Paul Hetherington was educated at The University of Western Australia, completing a PhD on Emily Dickinson. Before moving to Canberra in 1990, to take up a position at the National Library of Australia, Hetherington was the editor of Fremantle Arts Review. Subsequently, he was the founding editor of the quarterly humanities journal Voices (1991-1997). Hetherington edited National Library of Australia News from 1990-2009 and was the National Library's publisher from 1994-2009. He has reviewed literary works (primarily poetry) for Australian Book Review (ABR) and the Times Literary Supplement. In 2010 he moved to the University of Canberra to take up the position of Assistant Professor of Writing in the Faculty of Arts and Design.
Primarily a poet, Hetherington also edited and introduced The Diaries of Donald Friend Volume 2, The Diaries of Donald Friend Volume 3 and The Diaries of Donald Friend Volume 4 (qq.v). He has been a member of a variety of Boards, including the Board of ABR, and was a judge for the 2006, 2007 and 2008 ABR poetry prizes and the 2007 CAL/ABR Calibre Essay Prize. Hetherington was one of the founders and is a former Chair of the ACT Writers Centre, is a former Deputy Chair of the ACT's Word Festival and has served on the ACT Cultural Council's Literature Committee. He has also served as Chair of the ACT's Festival Fund Committee and Chair of the ACT Public Art Expert Advisory Panel. In 2005 he was appointed chair of the ACT Cultural Council. In 2007 he became the ACT member of the National Liaison Group for the Australian Poetry Centre.
Paul Kane (q.v.) has written: 'One of the first things one notices about Hetherington's poetry is the confluence of form and manner: his poems incline to classical verse schemes - sonnets, quatrains, balanced stanzas - while his style is similarly lucid in voice, diction and image. This felicitous combination gives his poems the feel of poise, intelligence, grace and finish'.