Jo Shapcott was born in London, England in 1954. She was educated at various institutions, including Trinity College in Dublin, Oxford, and Harvard. She won a National Poetry in 1985, before she had even released a poetry book. Her first book, Electroplating the Baby, arrived in 1988 and won the Commonwealth Prize for Poetry. She has released eight books of poetry since, with the most recent being Of Mutability, released in 2010. In 2002, she was awarded a distinction as a Commander of the British Empire, however she refused the war in protest of the British involvement in the Iraq War. Shapcott has also worked as a professor at several institutions and has translated works by the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
Shapcott's style is diverse and has developed over her career. She is known for her use of conversational language, and her anti-war sentiment. Several of her works, such as Electroplating the Baby, veer into the realm of the surreal, while later works have been more realistic and personal. Several of her works deal with sexual abuse and gender relations, while others deal with intimacy between lovers. Shapcott writes with a cutting sense of humor, that highlights what she sees as absurd or unnecessary. Alongside poetry, Shapcott has also published a series of lectures, and has edited works on famous other famous poets such as Elizabeth Bishop. For her wide-ranging achievements, Shapcott was named the President of the Poetry Society in 2005.