Doreen Francis was born into a mining family a couple of years before the start of World War II in Northumberland in the north-east of England. Her early memories are of the hardship caused by war. At the age of fourteen, she left home to commence training as a cook. After two years, she decided to become a nurse, so at the age of seventeen she started training at Dryburn Hospital in county Durham. She worked for ten years in orthopaedics and operating theatres.
Doreen married her husband Hal in 1957 and they had six children before moving to Australia in 1970 where they had their seventh child. She continued nursing for the next twenty-seven years, specialising in cardiac intensive care nursing.
Doreen and her family lived and travelled extensively throughout Australia, moving their seven children from New South Wales to South Australia to Queensland and back to South Australia. After the death of her husband, Doreen retired to the south coast of South Australia and pursued her lifelong dream of being a writer.