Valentina Polukhina was born in Siberia and educated at Kemerovo, Tula and Moscow universities. From 1962 to 1973 she taught at Moscow's Lumumba University and from 1973 till 2001 was Professor at Keele University, England. She specializes in modern Russian poetry and is well known to the international community of literary scholars as a specialist on Joseph Brodsky. She is the author of several major studies of Brodsky:†Joseph Brodsky: A Poet for Our Time (Cambridge: CUP, 1989), Brodsky Through the Eyes of his Contemporaries, vol. I (New York, London: St Martin's Press, 1992); a Russian version Brodskii glazami sovremennikov†(vol. I, 1997, 2006) and A Dictionary of Brodsky's Tropes (based on A Part of Speech, Tartu University Press, 1995). She is editor of a collection of Brodsky's interviews - A Large Book of Interviews ("Bol'shaya kniga intervyu") (M: Zakharov, 2000 and 2005, 2007), with Lev Loseff, of Brodsky's Poetics and Aesthetics (L: Macmillan Press, 1990) and Joseph Brodsky: The Art of a Poem (L., 1999, M., 2002), with A. Stepanov and I. Fomenko, of Brodsky's Poetics ("Poetika Brodskogo"), (Tver, 2003), with A. Korchinsky - Joseph Brodsky: A strategy for reading ("Iosif Brodkii: Strategiya chteniya"), (M., 2005). A second volume Brodsky Through the Eyes of his Contemporaries was republished in Russian in St Petersburg (SPb.: Zvezda, 2006). Iosif Brodskii: Zhizn', trudy, epokha (SPb.: Zvezda, 2008); Bol'she samogo sebia. Sbornik izvrannykh statei o Brodskom (Tomsk. 2009).
Among her articles there are essays on Akhmatova, Pasternak, Tsvetaeva, Khlebnikov, Mandelshtam, Lev Loseff, Tatiana Shcherbina, etc. She had edited bilingual collections of Olga Sedakova (1994), Oleg Prokofiev (1995), Dmitry Prigov (1995), Evgeny Rein (2001). Together with Daniel Weissbort she has assembled a special issue of the journal MPT (2002), a revised version was published as An Anthology of Russian Women Poets (2005) in the UK and USA (Carcanet, University of Iowa Press).†
Another dimension of her activity is bringing Russian literature to an English audience. She organized the visits of over 80 Russian writers and poets to Keele and other British universities. The post of Russian poet-in-residence at the University of Keele as well as the Russian Poets Fund were established thanks to V. Polukhina's effort.