Born in Wellington, Jennifer Compton attended drama school in Auckland for two years before going to Australia in the early seventies and attending NIDA Playwrights Studio. She began writing for ABCs soap Certain Women, moving on to radio plays that were produced in both Australia and New Zealand. The Goose's Bridle won an AWGIE award in 1976.
In 1974, Jennifer's play No Man's Land (re-titled Crossfire) was joint winner of the Newcastle Playwriting Competition. Premiering in Sydney, it had a season at Downstage Theatre, Wellington and was part of the Heartache and Sorrow Company's prize-winning season at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1979.
Other stage plays include Julia's Song, Barefoot and The Big Picture which premiered at the Griffin Theatre in Sydney in 1997, was published by Currency Press, and was produced by Circa in 1998 and by the Perth Theatre Company in 2009.
Jennifer is also known as a short story writer and poet. In 1975 she won the Katherine Mansfield Award and the BNZ Award for her short story The Man Who Died Twice.
Her poetry has been published in journals in Australasia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Croatia and North America. In 1995 she was awarded the NSW Writers' Fellowship by the NSW Ministry for the Arts. This was the first time that the fellowship had been awarded for poetry.
She has had residencies at the University of Canterbury, the Whiting Library Studio in Rome, Randell Cottage in Wellington and was Visiting Literary Artist at Massey University in Palmerston North.