Born April 8, 1930, in Somersetshire, England, Phyllis Ursula Synge received a traditional English country education and eventually became a bookseller, specializing in literature and art for children. In 1979, Synge attended the University of Bristol as a "mature student," an experience she notes contributed to the composition of Swan's Wing, the story of a man whose unusual appendage and the awkwardness he feels in "normal" society lead him to a new understanding of himself.
From childhood, Ursula Synge has had a keen interest in myths and legends. She has said that myths and legends offer a kind of poetic truth— truth that logic alone cannot reveal. Synge relies on these ancient stories in much of her writing but undertakes extensive historical research to broaden her understanding of the original context of the stories.
Critics respect Synge for her ability to simplify difficult mythological concepts into readable, enjoyable prose that retains all of the subtlety of the original text.