Nigel Gray was born in Northern Ireland and brought to England as a child. After leaving school he worked for eleven years in numerous unskilled jobs. He then went to the University of Lancaster as a mature student and was awarded a BA in English in 1974. In 1984 he was awarded an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.
He has worked as an actor and taught Modern Literature Courses for the University of Liverpool, Lancaster and the WEA. He has taught Creative Writing at several universities and writing workshops in schools, colleges, libraries and prisons.