Born in Edinburgh, Torrance grew up in London and moved to rural Wales in 1970. He taught creative writing at Cardiff University for a number of years. He performs literary cabaret with the poetry and music group Poetheat, which he co-founded in 1985 with composer Chris Vine and which is now called Heat Poets.
His work shows the influence of the Beats, especially Gary Snyder and William Burroughs and an interest in the matter and monuments of ancient Britain, including such 'magical' or religious phenomena as ley lines. He has also expressed an admiration for the writings of Charles Olson and David Jones.
Torrance has featured in a number of key Revival anthologies, including Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain (1969), Conductors of Chaos (1996) and Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 (1999). His major work is the ongoing Magic Door sequence, of which seven books have been published to date. A collected edition of these books was republished in 2016 as The Magic Door by Test Centre.
- Torrance, Chris (1968), Green orange purple red, and other poems, London, Ferry Press; cover drawing by David Jenkins, ISBN 978-0-900851-01-8
- Torrance, Chris (1969), Aries under Saturn and beyond, London, Ferry Press, ISBN 978-0-900851-22-3
- Torrance, Chris; Torrance, Val (1973) Acrospirical Meanderings in a Tongue of the Time, London, Albion Village Press
- Torrance, Chris; Torrance, Val (1975), The magic door : a cycle. Book 1, London, Albion Village Press, OCLC 60053688
- Torrance, Chris (1975), Mirages : a chronicle - September 1975, Neath Abbey, OCLC 12336536
- Torrance, Chris; Torrance, Val (1976), The Florentine sonnets, Neath, Cwm Nedd Press, OCLC 15127215
- Citrinas (The Magic Door, Book 2) (1977), London, Albion Village Press
- The Rainbringer (1977), Newcastle upon Tyne, Pig Press; 2nd revised edition, 1978. ISBN 0-903997-38-X
- Heat Sonnets (1979), Newcastle upon Tyne, Pig Press. ISBN 0-903977-42-7
- The diary of Palug's Cat (The Magic Door, Book 3) (1980), Newcastle upon Tyne, Galloping Dog Press', ISBN 0-904837-24-6; also Swansea, Stone Lantern Audiobook on tape oclc=20672978
- The Cloud Book, Neath, Cwm Nedd Press, 1980, OCLC 9107523
- The Book of Brychan (The Magic Door, Book 4) (1982), Newcastle upon Tyne, Galloping Dog Press; illustrations and cover design by Robin Campbell
- Cylinder Fragments of the Twentieth Century (1982), Neath, Cwm Nedd Press, ISBN 978-0-906244-12-8
- The Slim Book/Wet Pulp (The Magic Door, Book. 5) (1986), Swansea, Stone Lantern Press
- Southerly Vector/The Book Of Heat - Further Books of the Magic Door (1996), Neath, Cwm Nedd Press, ISBN 0-906244-27-7
- The Book of Heat CD, Chris Torrance-Words, Chris Vine-Music(1998), Innerstar; rerelease 2003
- Wobbly Chair (2003), Dinas Powys, Canna Press
- Frinite CD, Chris Torrance-Words, Chris Vine-Music (2004) Dinas Powys, Canna Press
- Hare Pie, card designed by Deidre Farrell (2007), signed by artist and author, Dinas Powys, Canna Press
- Path(The Magic Door, Book 6) (Heaventree Press, 2008)
- Mills, Billy (13 February 2009). "The hidden beauty of The Magic Door". The Guardian. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
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