Simon O'Connor was born in Wellington in 1949. While in Tonga in 1967 he came across a Listener article about the work of Patric and Rosalie Carey at the Globe Theatre in Dunedin. He travelled south and spent three years at the Globe as an informal student while working at a variety of labouring jobs, as a newspaper and television reporter and as an actor for the Southern Theatre Trust.
His first professionally performed script was a short, group-devised piece, Lift, produced at Theatre 87, Wellington in 1974. The following year his play Song of Johnny Muscle was performed at Wellington's Unity Theatre. Through the 70s and 80s he acted in radio and television drama productions and wrote the radio play The Pornographer, and several scripts for television series such as Close To Home, Country GP, Roche and Peppermint Twist.
Since 1992 he has been a Teaching Fellow in the Theatre Studies Department at Otago University where he now teaches Playwriting. He is co-founder of Talking House, a Dunedin-based community arts trust.