Alison Hoddinott was born in Hobart in 1931 and was educated at the Friends' School and the University of Tasmania. She won a scholarship to Oxford University in 1954. She has written and published extensively on the poetry of Gwen Harwood and co-edited Gwen Harwood's Collected Poems.
Alison Hoddinott writes about the history of crime fiction set in Oxford, from the early decades of the 20th century to the present. Her emphasis is on novels written by women and the ways in which their fiction deals with both the mystery and its solution and with the situation of women within the university and in the wider community.