Patricia Beer was born in Exmouth, Devon on 4 November 1919. She was the younger daughter of Andrew William Beer, a railway clerk at Exeter station and his wife Harriet Jeffery, a schoolteacher. She was educated at Exmouth Grammar School and took a first-class degree in English at Exeter University, after which, in 1941, she went up to St Hugh's College, Oxford to study for a BLitt. On completion of her formal education Beer travelled to Italy where she taught at the University of Padua (1947-9), The British Institute in Rome (1949-51), and the Minstero della Aeronautica, Rome (1951-3). She returned to England in 1953 and published her first collection of poems 'Loss of the Magyar' in 1959. In 1962 she was appointed as a lecturer in English at Goldsmith's College, London where she taught until 1968. On leaving Goldsmith's she became a full-time writer, publishing a study of Victorian women novelists entitled 'Reader, I married him' in 1974. She married first the literary scholar Philip Nicholas Furbank, then, in 1964, the architect Damien Parsons. The couple returned to Beer's birth county to a farm house in east Devon, near Honiton, where she remained for the rest of her life.
Her publications explored themes of nature and topography, good and evil, love, religion, ritual and mortality. They include the following, poetic works, 'Loss of the Magyar (1959), 'The Survivors' (1963), 'Just Like the Resurrection' (1967), 'The Estuary' (1971), 'Driving West' (1975), 'Selected Poems' (1979),'The Lie of the Land' (1983), 'Collected Poems' (1988), 'Friend of Heraclitus' (1993), 'Autumn' (1997). She also published a work of fiction, 'Moon's Ottery' (1978) and the memoir 'Mrs Beer's House' (1968). Beer also reviewed for The Listener, the Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books. A Collection of her reviews, 'As I was Saying', was published posthumously in 2002.