Robert Adamson was born on 17 May 1943 and has lived near the Hawkesbury River for most of his life. A series of juvenile misdemeanours resulted in him being sent to various detention centres. It was during this period that he first began writing poetry.
With a career spanning three decades and countless literary awareds, Adamson is recognised as one of Australia's leading poets. His books have been published in the UK and the USA and his poems have been translated into several languages. He has published fifteen volumes of poetry and has organised and produced poetry readings at literary festivals throughout Australia and internationally. He has been writer-in-residence at Australian universities, and was President of the Poetry Society of Australia, 1974 until 1980.
He was a key player in the growth of the 'New Australian Poetry' and was an editor of the Poetry Society of Australia's magazine, New Poetry, from 1968 until 1982. He was also the poetry reviewer for Australia's national newspaper, The Australian. From 1975 until 1976, Adamson was President of the Poetry Society, and organised Australian reading tours with contemporary Australian Poets.
Robert Adamson has worked as a poetry editor and consultant with Angus & Robertson/HarperCollins and has established several small publishing companies, including Prism Books and Big Smoke. He was the poetry editor the literary magazine Ulitarra from 1993 to 1997. In 1997 he became a founding editor, along with James Taylor, of the international poetry journal Boxkite. Adamson, with Juno Gemes and Michael Wilding, established Paper Bark Press in 1986 – a small press that went on to become one of Australia's major poetry publishing companies with a backlist of over thirty books.
Adamson's autobiography, Inside Out, was published in March 2004 by Text Publishing. Inside Out was shortlisted for the Melbourne Age's Book of the Year Awards 2004, the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards 2004 and NSW Premier's History Awards 2004, State Library of New South Wales National Biography Award 2004, and the NSW Premier's Literary Award's Douglas Stewart Prize for non-fiction. Most recently, Adamson has presented two new anthologies of poetry, The Golden Bird: New and Selected Poems in 2008 (Black Inc.) and The Kingfisher's Soul in 2009 (Bloodaxe Books).