Landeg White was born in South Wales in 1940, and named after his maternal grandfather. A preacher's son, he spent his childhood in Cheshire, Glasgow and Hertfordshire before graduating from Liverpool University.
The first third of his professional life was played out in the University of the West Indies, Trinidad, where he was chief arranger for a steel band; in the University of Malawi, from where he was deported in 1972; in the University of Sierra Leone, where he wrote the detective novel Inspector Tucker & the Leopard men, and in the University of Zambia, where he was teaching when his first book, V.S. Naipaul: a Critical Introduction, appeared.
The second third was played out at the University of York where he joined the Centre for Southern African Studies in 1980, becoming Director in 1984. Here, partly in collaboration with Leroy Vail, he wrote the books based on his African experiences – two Mozambican histories, the history of a village in Malawi, a study of southern Africa praise poetry, an anthology of African oral poetry (co-authored with Jack Mapanje) and three collections of his own poetry.
Since 1994, he has lived in Portugal where he teaches at the Universidade Aberta (Open University).