The New York Times said in her obituary that E. M. Broner was "a writer who explored the double marginalization of being Jewish and female, producing a body of fiction and nonfiction that placed her in the vanguard of Jewish feminist letters." She was born Esther Masserman to a Polish-American family in Detroit, Michigan. She received her B.A. and M.A. from Wayne State University, and later served as a professor of English and writer-in-residence there. She completed her Ph.D. at Union Graduate School in 1979.
She married Robert Broner, an artist, and had four children. Esther Broner began to write about the passions of her everyday life and about her Jewish heritage.
With the publication of Her Mothers in 1975, she emerged as a leading feminist writer. Her novel a Weave of Women (1978) combined Jewish and feminist themes to achieve a mystical, surreal, and hilarious vision of women who invent a new society. She co-edited a collection of scholarly articles, The Lost Tradition: Mothers and Daughters in Literature (1981) with Cathy Davidson. In 1982, Esther and her family moved to New York City, where she joined and helped shape a thriving community of Jewish feminists. Her memoir The Telling (1993) gives a historical overview of her previous life and provides an instructional guide to Jewish feminism.
In 1982, she adapted A Weave of Women to the stage and later completed Letters to My Television Past (1985), The Olympics (1986), and Half-a-Man (1989), which were staged in New York City, Los Angeles, and Detroit. Her short stories appeared in dozens of periodicals.
In addition to teaching at Wayne State University, she taught at the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Haifa, Israel; Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Oberlin College; and Sarah Lawrence College.