Xavier Herbert was born in Port Hedland, WA, in 1901. He was educated there and in Fremantle, qualifying as a pharmacist. After World War I he travelled in Australia, reaching Darwin in 1927. There he worked as a railway fettler and visited the South Pacific, experiences that went towards his first novel, Capricornia. He continued to travel, both overseas and within Australia, until in 1946 he settled near Cairns with his wife Sadie Norden. He combined writing with a variety of casual occupations.

Capricornia was first published in 1938 and won the Sesquicentenary literary competition in the same year. He won the Miles Franklin Award for Poor Fellow My Country which was published in 1975. His other work includes Seven Emus (1959), Soldiers′ Women (1961), Larger Than Life (1963) and Disturbing Element (1963). Xavier Herbert died in 1984.