Harrison Merrill was born in Smithfield, Utah on November 13, 1884, the son of Orrin J. and Elizabeth White Merrill. He married Edna Johnson on January 27, 1909, and soon after was called as a missionary to Ireland, returning in 1911 to teach school in Preston. After graduating from Utah State University, he became a member of BYU's English department.
Merrill published hundreds of articles, essays, stories, and poems in newspapers and magazine. He co-authored a book of verse with fellow professor Lowry Nelson. He also published one privately. He was co-editor of "Utah Sings," the first state anthology of verse.