Reg Butler was born April 28, 1913, in Buntingford, in the United Kingdom. In 1933, he began to train as an architect. From 1937 to 1939 he taught at the Architectual Association and was responsible for the design of two private houses and the clocktower of Slough Town Hall in 1936. After the outbreak of World War II, he became a blacksmith in West Sussex and wrote a series of 69 articles on Wartime building practice. At the end of the war he briefly resumed his architectual practice in London and started to attend art classes at the Chelsea School of Art.

His first solo exhibition was held at the Hanover Gallery in London in 1949. The following year he preceded Kenneth Armitage in receiving The Gregory Fellowship awarded by Leeds University. It was during his three years in Leeds that he fully developed his sculptural style. He abandoned his past methods of welding iron and turned instead to modelling in clay or plaster and casting the models in thin, light-weight bronze. In 1952 Butler was among eight sculptors chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale, where his work was highly acclaimed. The following year he was awarded First Prize in the international sculpture competition for a commemorative memorial to The Unknown Political Prisoner. He used the prize money to buy a house in Berkhamstead where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. He continued to make regular trips to London to teach at The Slade school of Art where he became head of the sculpture department.

A retrospective of his work was held at Louisville, Kentucky in October 1963. Apart from occasional group shows, Butler did not exhibit again until 1973 when he held an exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. The ten years of silence were the result of his disillusionment with sculpture's value as public art and the rise of a new generation of abstract sculptors in the 1960s which he made his modelled bronze figures appear dated. Reg Butler died in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, on October 23, 1981.