Paul Bentley was born in Rotherham. His father was a steelworker, and then a builder, and his mother worked in a knitwear factory. His paternal grandfather was a boxer, his maternal grandfather a miner. He went to Wickersley Comprehensive School in Rotherham, and then, following the advice of his father, to Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam) and then the University of Sheffield, where he studied English Literature to avoid work.
He now lives in Cornwall, and teaches English Literature in Plymouth. When not working he likes to loaf around in Cornwall with his wife and two children, search for real ale, and keep tabs on the progress of Rotherham United.
His poems have appeared in Poetry Review, The Rialto, The Manhattan Review, Magma and other magazines.
His poem ‘Barnsley Abu (a postcard to Paul Muldoon)’ was joint runner-up for the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2008 for the best poem in the year’s Poetry Review to have been written by a poet who has not yet published a full collection; the late Peter Porter described the poem as ‘very knowing… Muldoon is only there by way of key signature – most of the poem is concerned with the social, political and, above all, footballing life of the North, a fine broth of lowbrow and highbrow people, names, and enthusiasms’ (Poetry Review)
His book on Ted Hughes for Bloomsbury, Ted Hughes, Class and Violence, was published in 2014.
Paul Bentley was a winner in the 2010 Book & Pamphlet Competition, judged by Simon Armitage, with Largo. The pamphlet was then shortlisted for the 2011 Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets.