Sara Douglass was born on a small farm twenty-five miles from Penola, South Australia. The farm had no electricity, and she remembers reading by the gentle light of a kerosene lamp. Douglass's mother died when she was young and, when Douglass was about seven, the family moved to Adelaide where Douglass attended Methodist Ladies' College (now Annesley College).
Douglass started writing around the age of ten; her first novelette being about the discovery of the eighth sea of the world. When she was about fourteen she won a national essay competition.
Douglass trained as a nurse, graduating in 1978, but four years later she began an Arts degree at the University of Adelaide, going on to gain a Doctorate in History in 1991. During this time she resumed her writing, which she had dropped for about six years, and produced her first novel, 'The Judgement of Jerusalem', which was rejected by the publishers. Discouraged, she gave up writing again.
'In 1992, Douglass was appointed Senior Lecturer in Medieval European History at LaTrobe University, Bendigo Campus, and took up writing once more, as a way to relax and escape the pressures of academia. She wrote eight or nine novels, none of which were published, and then began her Axis Trilogy. Having written almost all of it, she sent the first volume, BattleAxe, to an agent.
Douglas went on to become one of Australia's leading fantasy writers, and her Axis Trilogy won the 1997 Aurealis Award: Best Fantasy Novel. She also published some non-fiction works including - Images of Educational Travellers in Early Modern England (1995) (as Sara Warneke) and Betrayal of Arthur (1999).
In 1999 Douglass resigned from the university to concentrate on her garden and her writing. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. A little over a year before her death, Douglass wrote about 'The Silence of the Dying' on her blog, Notes from Nonsuch. Her revelations in this column were still drawing responses on the day of her death.