David Ferry was born in Orange, New Jersey, in 1924. He completed his education at Amherst College and Harvard University, and served as a Sergeant in the United States Army Air Force from 1943 to 1946. His books of poetry and translation include His Epistles of Horace: A Translation (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001), Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press, 1999), The Eclogues of Virgil (1999), The Odes of Horace: A Translation (1998), Dwelling Places: Poems and Translations (1993), Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse (1992), Strangers: A Book of Poems (1983), On the Way to the Island (1960), and The Limits of Mortality: An Essay on Wordsworth's Major Poems (1959).

Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Bingham Poetry Prize from Boston Book Review, the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry and was a finalist for The New Yorker Book Award and the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Ferry's other awards include the Sixtieth Fellowship of The Academy of American Poets, the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, the Teasdale Prize for Poetry, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the Ingram Merrill Award, and the William Arrowsmith Translation Prize from AGNI magazine. In 1998 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also the Sophie Chantal Hart Professor Emeritus of English at Wellesley College and a Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at Boston University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.