Joyce Mansour was born in England in 1928 to a Jewish family of Syrian descent who moved to Egypt when she was still an infant. She grew up among the English-speaking elite of Egypt. Despite her privileged childhood, she was deeply scarred by the loss of her mother to cancer at 15 years old and the death of her first husband six months into their marriage, when she was just 18. She learned to speak and write in French when she married her second husband, a Francophone Egyptian, and was exiled to Paris when Nasser came to power. Mansour was part of the inner circle of Surrealists, a close friend of André Breton and the most significant poet to join the group after World War II. She wrote 16 books of poetry, as well as prose works and plays. She lived in Paris, France until her death in 1986 at age of 58.