Edna Mann was born in London. She studied art at Dagenham School of Art, where she met Dorothy Mead and David Bomberg in 1942. In 1945 she won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, but left after a year to join David Bomberg’s class at Borough Polytechnic. Mann was a founder member of the Borough Group in 1946, with Cliff Holden, Dorothy Mead and Peter (Miles) Richmond.
After having children, Mann continued to paint intermittently and taught art, first at Lucton School and then at Burnt Mill School in Harlow. In 1958 she began to write and her first play, written in collaboration with Frank Hitchcock, was broadcast on the BBC in 1965. In the same year, Mann had her first solo show at Drian Gallery, and was included in The Visual Arts, Harlow Arts Festival. Her final show, at Scribes just before she died, was organised with help from her family and was well received.
The works by Mann included in A David Bomberg Legacy – The Sarah Rose Collection were all made during her time at Borough Polytechnic.