Petra White comes from English, Scottish and Irish ancestry and is the eldest of six children. She has been interested in writing since early childhood and began writing in earnest (attempting a novel) after graduating from high school. In 1998 White moved to Melbourne and began to focus seriously on poetry. She completed a BA with honours in English and a major in German literature at Melbourne University.
In 2002 White studied at Essen University, as well as travelling throughout Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. She has a particular interest in the study of the Irish poet Medbh McGuckian. White has worked part-time as an editor and tutor.