Walter Adamson was educated in Königsberg, Germany where he completed high school (Gymnasium). After ten years office work in trading and manufacturing, he lived in Italy before coming to Australia. in Australia, he worked as a butler and a solderer until 1944 when he started his service with the Australian Military Forces (AMF) as an Italian interpreter. Adamson became an Australian citizen in 1945. From 1947 until 1969 he was employed with importing companies in Melbourne, with the exception of the period between 1949 and 1953, when he taught English as a second language in La Paz, Bolivia. Adamson returned to Australia in 1959, working as a full-time writer from 1969. He became a member and president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Goethe Society as well as joining International PEN (Melbourne), the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW), Victoria, and the Poets' Union of Australia. In 1985 and 1986 he undertook writers' tours in Victoria through the National Book Council.
Adamson's best known novel, Die Anstalt, reflects a firsthand knowledge of the war years and the dangers of totalitarianism together with a creative adaptation of the German intellectual and philosophical legacy of writers such as Thomas Mann. From this work he read on Radio RIAS, West Berlin and also gave public readings during a three-month lecture tour of West Germany in 1973. In Australia he read on Radio 3EA, Radio 2EA, Radio 3AR and Radio 2SER as well as at Australian universities, in libraries, schools, book clubs and at the Goethe Institute in Melbourne.
Adamson was an accomplished and subtle humourist in his writings of immigrant settlement in Australia. His poetry and prose were published frequently in German and Australian newspapers, journals and collections. Adamson's obituarist, Alex Skovron (q.v.) wrote that Adamson's 'style was marked by a lightness of touch guided by a probing intellect, an alert ear, an astute eye, and an accent distinctly individual'. (Age (29 January 2011): 8)