Klein was one of nine children. She had her first short story published at the age of sixteen. She worked in number of jobs before becoming an established writer, such as tea lady at a warehouse, as a bookshop assistant, a nurse, copper enamelist, and program aide at a school for disadvantaged children .
Several of her books have been short-listed for the Australian Children's Book of the Year Award, including Hating Alison Ashley (also a film starring Delta Goodrem) and Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left (filmed as a television series for the Seven Network in 1992). Klein's novel Came Back to Show You I Could Fly won a Human Rights Award for Literature in 1989 and also won the 1990 Australian Children's Book of the Year Award for Older Readers. It was filmed as Say a Little Prayer in 1993. She wrote her first short story at the age of 16.
Several of her other books have received awards in Australia, including the South Australian Festival Award for Literature, which she won in 1998 with The Listmaker. Many others have also won or been short listed.
Robin Klein suffered an aneurysm rupture, and, while she survived, she lives in a nursing home and is no longer able to write or do significant publicity work for her books.