Born in Tondo, Manila, of Pampango parents from Lubao, Bienvenido N. Santos was a government pensionado to the United States in 1941. During the war years he studied at the University of Illinois, Columbia, and Harvard and served with the Philippine government in exile in Washington, D.C.
In 1946 he returned to the Philippines, taught school and became a university administrator. In 1958 he was a Rockefeller Foundation fellow at the Writers Workshop in the University of Iowa where he later taught as a Fulbright exchange professor. He has received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship and a Republic Cultural Heritage Award in Literature.
In 1981, his alma mater, the University of the Philippines, and Bicol University in Legazpi City gave him honorary degrees in Letters and Humanities. He was a Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Wichita State University from 1973 to 1982, and was awarded an honorary degree in humane letters upon his retirement.
In late 1986 to 1987, he was a Visiting Writer and Artist at De La Salle University.
His works include the following:
Short fiction collections