Glenda Adams was born in Sydney and was later educated at the University of Sydney. It was here that she developed her interest in langages and cultures, and in Indonesia in particular. After graduating she travelled through Indonesia on a study tour which later led to her teaching Indonesian at the University of Sydney. In 1964 she moved to New York and stayed in the United States - apart from a few years in Europe - until 1990. At that time she moved back to Sydney to live. Adams has been a writer-in-residence at University of Western Australia, Macquarie University and the University of Adelaide. She currently lectures at the University of Technology in Sydney.