Born in Minas Gerais, Campos was the son of the physician and writer Mario Mendes Campos and D. Maria José de Lima Campos. He began his studies at the state capital, continued in Cachoeira do Campo, where the Portuguese teacher, a priest predicted: "You will still be a writer," and ended them in São João del Rei. He began the study of dentistry, veterinary medicine and law, and did not complete them. His dream of being an aviator also did not materialize. Diploma himself, he liked to play, just as typist. Still very young, he entered the literary life as a member of the Minas Gerais' "generation of 1945", together with names as Fernando Sabino, Otto Lara Resende, Hélio Pellegrino, João Ettiene Filho, Carlos Castello Branco and Murilo Rubião. In Belo Horizonte, Campos directed the literary supplement of Folha de Minas and worked in the construction company of an uncle. He went to Rio de Janeiro in 1945 in order to meet the poet Pablo Neruda, and ended up staying. In Rio were already his best friends of Minas - Sabino, Otto, and Hélio Pellegrino. He began to collaborate in the newspapers O Jornal, Correio da Manhã (on which he was editor for two and a half years) and Diário Carioca. In the latter, he signed the Suplemento Literário (Literary Section) and then the daily crônica Primeiro Plano. Was for many years, one of three effective cronistas of the magazine Manchete. Admitted to IPASE in 1947 as a building inspector,Campos became editor of that organization and became director of the Rare Books Division of the National Library in Rio de Janeiro.In 1951 he released his first book, A palavra escrita,of poems. He married that same year, Joan of English descent, having had two children, Gabriela and Daniel. Paulo Mendes Campos was a reporter and, sometimes, an advertising copywriter. He was also skillful translator of poetry and prose English and French to Brazilian Portuguese - among other Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, John Ruskin, Shakespeare, and Neruda.