Rhyll McMaster was born in Brisbane and has worked as a secretary, nurse and a sheep farmer; she also worked in the editorial office of Australian Literary Studies at the time when it was produced in the English Department of the University of Tasmania. In 1965 McMaster published her first poems in the Bulletin. Her poetry has since appeared regularly in many Australian publications. McMaster published her first collection, The Brineshrimp, in 1972, winning the Harri Jones Memorial Award. She has also won the Grace Leven Prize twice. McMaster is widely admired for the fine detail of her descriptive poetry. Attracting equal attention are her explorations of family life and her persistent questions about life itself.
In addition to her poetry McMaster has reviewed fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald and written short stories. She was, for a short time, poetry editor for the Canberra Times.
Feather Man2007single work novel 'Set in Brisbane during the stultifying 1950s, and moving to the grubby London of the 1970s, Feather Man is about Sooky, who, ignored by her parents, is encouraged to make herself scarce and visit Lionel, their elderly next dour neighbour. McMaster brings Brisbane to life, depicting a home full of powerful emblems, The Thor washing machine thunders away. A kookaburra is perched on the oven door. Following Sooky from her neglected childhood to womanhood and her entry into the an world, the book combines comedy with emotional intensity. When Sooky's attraction to Redmond leads her to London, her past follows her into the future in a deadly confrontation' (Book jacket, American edition).