Gilbert White was born at Rondebosch, Cape Colony, South Africa, the son of Reverend Francis Gilbert White and the great grand-nephew of Gilbert White, the naturalist of Selbourne. White was educated at Oriel College, Oxford (B.A. 1881, M.A. 1885) but a lung condition necessitated immigration to a warmer climate, and he arrived in Townsville in 1885.
White worked on the Herbert River, near Ingham, at Charters Towers, and on the Atherton Tablelands before being made the Anglican Archdeacon of North Queensland in 1892. He was a fellow of the Australian College of Theology, was ordained in 1893 and worked as vicar and rector of the Cathedral Parish, Townsville, in 1897 to 1898, before being consecrated in Sydney in 1900 as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Carpentaria (1900-1915). After spending thirty years in northern Australia, he became Bishop of Willochra, in South Australia (1915-1925), after which he retired to Sydney.
In addition to publishing poetry and sermons, White was well known for his travelogues, Across Australia (London, 1909), Round About the Torres Straits (London, 1917) and Thirty Years in Tropical Australia (London, 1918). Many of his poems were written on his journeys. He was an author, philosopher and linguist (familiar with Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish and German).