Born in Woolwich, south-east London, Bland wanted to join the army but instead became a bank clerk. In 1877, he met 19-year-old Edith Nesbit, a follower of William Morris, and, with Edith already seven months pregnant, they married on 22 April 1880.
Some three years later, they joined a socialist debating group which evolved to become the Fabian Society in January 1884. Bland chaired the first meeting and was subsequently elected to be the Society's treasurer. Fellow members included Edward Pease, Havelock Ellis, and Frank Podmore.
The couple lived in Well Hall House, Eltham from 1899. In 1911 Bland began to go blind and had to be supported by Edith by this time a successful poet and novelist, The Railway Children (1906) being perhaps her most famous work. Bland died of a heart attack on 14 April 1914 and was buried in Woolwich cemetery.