John Eppel was born in Lydenburg, South Africa. He moved to Colleen Bawn, a small mining town in the south of Southern Rhodesia, at the age of four. He was educated at Milton High School in Bulawayo, and later attended the University of Natal in South Africa, where he completed his English master's degree in 'A Study of Keatsian Dialectics'. He married at the age of 34 and has three children; Ben, Ruth and Joe. His ex-wife, Shari, is a poet and prominent human rights activist. Eppel teaches English at Christian Brothers College, Bulawayo.