Having spent much of her life in Scotland, Elizabeth Burns moved to Lancaster where she taught creative writing.
Her first full length collection, Ophelia and other poems, was published in 1991, and was shortlisted for the Saltire Award for First Book of the Year. Her second collection, The Gift of Light, was published in 1999, followed by The Lantern Bearers in 2007. Held, her fourth full length collection was published in 2010.
In addition to full-length collections, Elizabeth produced a number of pamphlets including The Shortest Days, which won the 2009 Michael Marks Award. The Alteration was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Poetry Pamphlet Award
Her work has appeared in many anthologies of Scottish poetry, including Dreamstate: the new Scottish poets (Polygon, 1994; 2002), The Faber Book of Twentieth Century Scottish Poems (Faber, 2000), Modern Scottish Women Poets (Canongate, 2003), Scotlands: poet and nations (Carcanet, 2004), The Edinburgh Anthology of Twentieth-century Scottish Poetry (Edinburgh University Press, 2005), 100 Favourite Scottish Poems (Luath, 2006).
She was an early member of Pomegranate Women Writers in Edinburgh and continued to be closely involved in a writing group in Lancaster.
Her love of pottery and identification with the craft led her to a number of collaborations with ceramicists and other makers. She also wrote about painters, including Gwen John, Winifred Nicholson, and Anne Redpath.
From her first book, Ophelia and other Poems, Elizabeth was a poet whose work was suffused with the colour and scent of ordinary lives. She was also a quietly fearless writer, never shying from the hurt done by one human to another. Her delicate and graceful poems have space in them for what has been lost or broken, for the flawed and crooked, as well as the sensuousness of the everyday, particularly in the lives of women which she celebrated in poem after poem.
A final collection, published after her death in 2016, Lightkeepers, was edited by Gerrie Fellows and Jane Routh.