Born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, Deal attended Macedonia Consolidated High School, after which he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and fought forest fires in the Pacific Northwest. Before he began writing, his checkered career included work on a showboat, hauling sawdust for a lumber mill, harvesting wheat, a position as auditor for the United States Department of Labor, a telephone solicitor, copywriter, and an anti-aircraft fire control instructor in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In 1946, Deal enrolled in The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. While there he published his first short story, "Exodus". His creative writing professor was Hudson Strode. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree within three years, then enrolled in Mexico City College for graduate study.
It was not until 1956 that Deal decided to become a full-time writer. Among the pseudonyms he used were Loyse Deal, Lee Borden, and Michael Sunga.
A prolific writer, Deal penned twenty-one novels and more than one hundred short stories, many of which appeared in McCall's, Collier's, Saturday Review, and Good Housekeeping. His work has been translated into twenty different languages. A major theme in his canon is man's mystical attachment to the earth and his quest for land, inspired by his family's loss of their property during the Great Depression. The majority of his work is set in the small hamlets of the Deep South. From 1970 Deal also published, under the name "Anonymous", a series of erotic novels with pronoun titles such as Her and Him.
His novel The Insolent Breed served as the basis for the Broadway musical A Joyful Noise. His novel Dunbar's Cove was the basis for the plot of the film Wild River, starring Lee Remick and Montgomery Clift.
- Walk through the Valley, 1956
- Dunbar's Cove, 1957
- Search for Surrender, 1957
- Killer in the Mansion, 1957
- Secret of Sylvia, 1958
- Devil's Whispers, 1961
- The Spangled Road, 1962
- Antaeus, 1962
- The Loser, 1964
- The Tobacco Men, 1965
- A Long Way to Go, 1965
- The Advocate, 1968
- Interstate, 1970
- The Winner, 1973
- The Other Room, 1974
- Bluegrass, 1976
- Legend of the Bluegrass, 1977
- Adventure, 1978
- The Taste of Watermelon, 1979
- There Were Also Strangers, 1985
- The Mississippi Writers Page Biographical Note (Department of English, University of Mississippi)
- The Mississippi Writers and Musicians Project Article, including photo and portrait of the author, as well as extensive bibliographic details (Starkville High School, Starkville, Mississippi)
- The FictionMags Index; Stories, Listed by Author Bibliographical listings; Periodicals
- The Big Bajor Official Website Official website for a short film based on Borden Deal's short story, The Big Baoor, about a young gypsy woman trying to swindle a fortune from a country spinster.
- Works by or about Borden Deal in libraries (WorldCat catalog)