He was born in London on 11 December, 1905. After living in England and France he came to Dublin in 1931 to become Advertisement Manager of the newly launched Irish Press newspaper. From 1936 – 44 he was Secretary of the Federation of Irish Manufacturers.
He was elected to Dáil Éireann in 1938. From 1944 – 48 he served as a Junior Minister and from 1951 – 54 and 1957 – 73 he held successive ministerial appointments in a number of government departments. He also served as Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) 1969 – 73.
Erskine Childers married Ruth Dow in 1925. After her death he was married in 1952 to Rita Dudley. On 25 June, 1973 he was inaugurated as the fourth President of Ireland. He died in office on 17 November, 1974.