Barbara Gowdy was born in Windsor in 1950 but grew up in the Toronto suburb of Don Mills, after having moved there with her family in 1954. After graduating from high school in the late 1960s, she studied at York University and the Royal Conservatory of Music. In the early 1980s, Gowdy became an editor for the publisher Lester and Orpen Dennys. She has also taught creative writing at Ryerson and the University of Toronto and has worked as an interviewer for the TVOntario program, Imprint. Gowdy has been a finalist for several prominent literary awards, including the Trillium Award for We So Seldom Look on Love and the Trillium Award, the Giller Prize, and the Governor General's Award for Mr. Sandman. The White Bone has also been nominated for the Giller Prize.