Lisa St. Aubin de Terán was born Lisa Rynveld in South London. She attended the James Allen's Girls' School. She married a Venezuelan landowner, Jaime Terán in 1971, at the age of 17, and became a farmer of sugar cane, avocados, pears, and sheep from 1972-1978.

Her second husband was the Scottish poet and novelist George MacBeth. After the marriage failed, she married painter Robbie Duff Scott and moved to Umbria, Italy.

In 1982, St. Aubin de Terán published her first novel, Keepers of the House. This novel was the recipient of the Somerset Maugham Award. Her second novel, The Slow Train to Milan, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. She received the Eric Gregory for Poetry in 1983. Her work includes novels, memoirs, poetry, and short-story collections.

St. Aubin de Terán has three children, including a daughter by her first husband, Iseult Teran, who is also a novelist.

She currently lives in Amsterdam with her partner Mees Van Deth, where she runs a film company and has set up the Terán Foundation in Mozambique.