Anna Sanderson was born in 1970 on the North Shore of Auckland. She studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, majoring in photography. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts (majoring in English and Art History) from the University of Auckland.
She began work as a photographer for the National Library of New Zealand and worked on a photography-based visual practice. In 1995, as a response to the dearth of in-depth art criticism she, with Anna Miles and Tessa Laird, founded and co-edited the short lived but celebrated Monica magazine. It was here that she began to write a kind of journalistic art criticism.
In 1998 she left New Zealand and lived successively in Melbourne, Rotterdam and New York. When not working for money, she developed a writing practice which she describes as a mix of un-focused research and observational study. While in New York she took two adult education classes at the New School University: First ‘Creative Non-fiction’ and then ‘Fiction’. These classes provided her with the opportunity to consider which her writing practice might be.
On a short visa-renewal trip to New Zealand from America in 2004, Anna met her now partner, and stayed. They had their first child in 2005, in the same year that Anna studied for a Masters in Creative Writing at Victoria University of Wellington with Damien Wilkins. Integrating much of the material from the last few years the resulting manuscript, Brainpark, was a work of non-fiction which was published the following year by Victoria University Press.
Anna has been caring for two young children with her partner. In the background there have been the tentative beginnings of a new project and the occasional writing project, including an essay Dr Yang which received the Landfall essay prize in 2006.
Anna received a New Generation Award in 2008. The $25,000 award allowed Tony, her partner, to take time off work in 2010, to look after their two children enabling Anna to devote her time to good amount of full-time writing. They have since extended their family to four with twins, Mary and Len, being born mid-2010 .