Patricia Shaw read History at university and consequently assisted the Governor of Queensland as a textwriter. Since 1983, she has led the Oral History Department of the Library of Parliament and written two works of non-fiction regarding Australia's era of settlement.
Shaw was 52 years old before she began to write fiction. Among her many novels, most of which centre on the settlement of the Australian hinterland and which earned her the sobriquet of "Australia's Chronicler", the most widely known are River of the Sun (1991) and The Opal Seekers (1996).
Patricia Shaw is also actively involved in the protection of Australia's native animals and birds.