Gillian Mears grew up in north coast towns of New South Wales. She began the study of Archaeology at the University of Sydney but did not finish her degree. She took a position as a laboratory assistant in the university and, in 1982, began to write fiction. Her writing benefited from writing classes at the University of Technology, Sydney, in which she had the assistance of writers such as Susan Hampton, Drusilla Modjeska and Stephen Muecke (qq.v.). Mears completed a Bachelor of Arts in Communication at that University in 1985 and returned to Grafton to her close-knit family. She travelled to Africa on a grant to research a novel on her father's English grandmother and mother. The work was abandoned. Mears spent six months in Paris at the Keesing Writers' Studio in 1991. She has suffered from a form of locomotor ataxia which deepened as she turned thirty-five. Mears continued to live quietly on a farm outside Grafton, New South Wales.
Writing since she was twenty, Mears has received many prizes and awards including the Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1990 for her novel The Mint LawnLt). Writing with a joy and a passion, Mears draws heavily on her own experiences, bringing alive the Northern rivers region of New South Wales. Mears has always had a strong connection with landscape and place, expressed through her fiction and her involvement in Green politics. Her collection Fineflour (1990) attracted notoriety as it was removed from the Higher School Certificate syllabus in New South Wales on the grounds that the stories failed to meet the Higher School Certificate Board's criteria of 'literary merit, broad community, ethical and moral standards'.
Gilliam Mears died in 2016, after living for many years with multiple sclerosis.
(Source: Contemporary Authors Online, Thomson Gale, 2005; Emma Sorensen, 'A Map of Mears [Interview]', Meanjin 61,3 (1999): 72-80; Emma Sorensen, 'The Unflinching Gaze: In Conversation with Gillian Mears', Antipodes 16,2 (December 2002): 125-131.)