Bernard was born in 1934 in the village of Hadleigh, in Suffolk, East Anglia. He studied at Leeds University from 1952-56, where he also began writing and was on the editorial board of Gryphon, the university’s literary journal. During the 1956 Suez Crisis he was called up and served in the RAF, stationed mainly in Singapore. After undertaking a short service commission he was awarded a Sword of Honour for coming top of his intake. Following his national service Bernard remained in Singapore, lecturing in Malay Customary Law part-time at the University of Malaya, then later becoming a full-time lecturer there in the Faculty of Law. In Singapore he also became friends with the distinguished English poet, DJ Enright. In 1961 Bernard moved to New Zealand, joining the Faculty of Law at the University of Auckland. He later became an Associate Professor of Law at the university, where he still teaches part-time. He also spent three years as Foundation fellow on Papua New Guinea Law at the Australian National University in Canberra. His publications include the poetry and prose collections Surprising the Slug, Unspeakable Practices and Sensible Sinning. Bernard was awarded Life Membership of the New Zealand Society of Authors in 2010.