He was born in Nam Định and died in Hanoi. In 1946, he joined the Vietnamese Communist resistance against the French, but by 1953, had fallen out of favor with the Party. In 1956, he was jailed for three months in Hoả Lò Prison (better known to Americans as Hanoi Hilton), where he tried to commit suicide. In 1956-57, he was one of the key members of the dissident group Nhân Văn Giai Phẩm. During 1958-1960, he was condemned to hard labor for months at a time. From 1959 until 1988, he was banned from publishing, although he continued to write novels and poems. His poetry is among the most radical in the history of Vietnamese literature. Phạm Thị Hoài has edited a book of his journal entries Trần Dần – Ghi: 1954-1960 (Paris: TD Mémoire, 2001)
He is translated into English and included in the anthology, Black Dog, Black Night.
 Trần Dần online
- Trần Dần chronology, prepared by Phạm Thị Hoài
- Trần Dần page on Tiền Vệ, with many poems and drawings
- An excerpt from "jờ joạcx"
- "Thơ lảy"
- "Tình yêu"
- "Ghi 1954-1955", from his journal
- "Đấu Nguyễn Văn Nga", from his journal
- Thụy Khuê writing about Trần Dần
- "Thủ lĩnh trong bóng tối", Phạm Thị Hoài on Trần Dần
- "Tiến tới xét lại một vụ án văn học: Con người Trần Dần", a 1956 article by Hoàng Cầm
- "Trần Dần trong con mắt Georges Boudarel"
- "Những người bay có chân trời...", an article on him
- "Bộ mặt thực của Trần Dần trong nhóm phá hoại Nhân văn–Giai phẩm," an article attacking him, from 1958
- "Con người Trần Dần--một thủ đoạn chính trị bất lương của nhóm 'Nhân văn'" by Huyền Kiêu, another article attacking him, from 1958
- "Bức ký họa Trần Dần" by Nguyễn Đình Đăng
- "Trần Dần, đôi nét..." by Vân Long