Geoffrey Lehmann was born in Sydney at the Crown Street Hospital and spent his early childhood at Mcmahon's Point on Sydney Harbour. He was educated at the Shore School. His family background acknowledges mixed Irish and German descent and Lehmann studied German literature at university. Lehmann graduated in arts and law from the University of Sydney in 1960 and 1963 respectively. While at university he co-edited with Les Murray the magazines Arna and Hermes and, during this period, was associated with the Sydney Push. Lehmann has practised as a solicitor, becoming a partner with C. R. Willcox, and lectured in law and taxation at the University of New South Wales. He later became a partner in the international accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers. He has written occasionally on taxation for the Australian Financial Review, describing himself as 'a tax consultant and poet', and has held the position of Chair of the Australian Tax Research Foundation.
Lehmann's first volume of poetry was The Ilex Tree (1965), a collaboration with Les Murray. Since then his poetry has been published regularly and collected in a number of widely admired volumes. Lehmann explores human nature with poems of diverse settings, including ancient Rome and rural New South Wales. The latter setting is exemplified in Ross' Poems (1978), a series that employs the voice of an Australian farmer to explore the ideas of family and community. Lehmann's Roman poetry is often seen as a metaphor for the destruction of civilization and is sometimes connected with Sydney. This view of society is balanced by Lehmann's family poetry with which he often examines the life of his father and grandfather. Lehmann has won the Grace Leven Prize three times, most recently for Collected Poems (1997). Lehmann's influences have included C. P. Cavafy and Kenneth Slessor.
In addition to his poetry, Lehmann has written a novel and edited several anthologies of Australian poetry. He has also published a book of art criticism on Australian naive painting. With Cynthia Coleman, he co-authored Taxation Law in Australia (1989).
'Geoffrey Lehmann’s distinguished career as a poet culminates in this volume of collected work from 1957–2013. Displaying the breadth and depth of his poetry, Lehmann explores human nature in settings as diverse as ancient Rome and rural New South Wales, from searing satire to the domestic life of a family.' (Publisher's Blurb)
Australian Poetry Since 17882011anthology poetry 'A good poem is one that the world can’t forget or is delighted to rediscover. This landmark anthology of Australian poetry, edited by two of Australia’s foremost poets, Geoffrey Lehmann and Robert Gray, contains such poems. It is the first of its kind for Australia and promises to become a classic. Included here are Australia’s major poets, and lesser-known but equally affecting ones, and all manifestations of Australian poetry since 1788, from concrete poems to prose poems, from the cerebral to the naïve, from the humorous to the confessional, and from formal to free verse. Translations of some striking Aboriginal song poems are one of the high points. Containing over 1000 poems from 170 Australian poets, as well as short critical biographies, this careful reevaluation of Australian poetry makes this a superb book that can be read and enjoyed over a lifetime.' (From the publisher's website.)