One of Australia's leading nature poets and talented collector of Aboriginal stories, Roland Robinson was brought to Australia when nine years old. After a brief education, he worked at various jobs, including rouseabout, boundary-rider, railway fettler, fencer, dam-builder, gardener, and ballet dancer, who trained under Helene Kirsova.
Robinson's first published verse appeared in Beyond the Grass-tree Spears (1944). His attraction to the landscape and his associated spirituality saw him connected with the Jindyworobak Movement, becoming one of the movement's most dedicated poets. While working in the Northern Territory during World War II, Robinson came into contact with Aboriginal tribal life, consolidating his interest in Aboriginal lore and narrative. During the 1950s, with the assistance of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, he collected stories from the Aborigines of New South Wales, later publishing them in several collections. In addition to these collections, Robinson published many more volumes of poetry, including Tumult of the Swans (1953) which won the Grace Leven Prize. He also wrote three widely admired autobiographies and a number of prose works on Aboriginal issues. In Minah (1995), it is stated that he 'believed that Aboriginal storytellers speak with a rhythm that transcribed as poetry and narratives in English. He scribed phonetically, making only minor punctuation changes'.
After working as a literary and ballet critic for the Sydney Morning Herald, Robinson was editor of Poetry Magazine (1965-69) and president of the Poetry Association of Australia. His work attracted a number of prizes and he received several honours, including the Patrick White Award (1988), the FAW Christopher Brennan Award (1989) and a D.Litt. from the University of Newcastle (1991).