Marion Milner was born Nina Marion Blackett in London, England. Her brother Patrick Blackett grew up to be a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. She graduated with a first class honors degree in psychology from University College, London in 1924. In 1927, she married Dennis Milner, with whom she had a son. She kept an introspective daily journal that became the basis for a critically-acclaimed book called A Life of One's Own (1934), published under the pen name Joanna Field. Also under this pseudonym, she published An Experiment in Leisure (1937). In 1940, she started training as a psychoanalyst and went into practice in 1943, working with both children and adults. She became a prominent member of the Independent school of the British Psychoanalystical Society. Among her works on psychoanalysis, the best-known is The Hands of the Living God (1969). An enthusiastic painter herself, she wrote about the benefits of painting in On Not Being Able to Paint (1950).