Lee Knowles spent her early childhood in South Fremantle. She trained at the Claremont Teachers' College and later worked with the Publications Branch of the Western Australian Education Department, writing stories and plays for various magazines. In the mid1960s she joined Dorothy Hewett's Young Poets' Group and has said that she owed a great deal to Dorothy Hewett (q.v.) and to others in the group at that time.
Her poetry is significant in its evocation of Fremantle, Swan River and Indian Ocean milieux. Most of the poems that began to appear regularly in Westerly, Poetry Australia, the Sandgropers Anthology, Twentieth Century, and the Beloit Poetry Journal drew on legends or on local folk-lore. Her poems frequently demonstrate a close affinity with the sea.
Knowles has been praised as an excellent reader of poetry and has participated in readings at the Praxis Gallery (Perth) and at the Fremantle Arts Centre.