Rosemary Joy Manning was born in Weymouth, Dorset, 9 December 1911. She attended boarding school in Devon and later studied at the Royal Holloway College from 1930 to 1933, graduating with a 2nd class honours degree in Classics.
Manning first worked in a department store on Oxford street and then as a secretary. Unhappy with her work she suffered a nervous breakdown and was treated at the Maudsley Hospital, following this Manning was offered a teaching job by her former headmistress where she stayed as a teacher for a further 35 years and in 1950 she moved to Hampstead, London to take over a long-established girls’ preparatory school as headmistress.
In 1957 Manning released Green Smoke, her first in the series of Dragon children’s books she would become well known for. In 1962 she released The Chinese Garden, following a failed suicide attempt. The book was later known as her greatest novel and an important piece of lesbian literature. After retiring, she publicly came out as a lesbian in a televised interview in 1980. She died on the 5th April 1988.