Valerie Flint was born in Derby, England, and raised in Yorkshire. She attended the Rutland House School and a convent school in Doncaster, later converting to the Roman Catholic faith. She went to the University of Oxford on a scholarship. She earned an MPhil degree in history in 1969, focusing on the 12th century. She began teaching at the University of Auckland in New Zealand in 1971. In the late 1980s, she became a Fellow of the Davis Center at Princeton University in New Jersey. While working at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study in 1994, she published her most important work, The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe. Other books included a volume of collected essays, Ideas in the Middle Ages (1988), The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus (1992), and Authors of the Middle Ages 6 (1995), part of the series Historical and Religious Writers of the Latin West. She held a chair in history at the University of Hull, England, from 1995 until 1999, when she took early retirement due to illness. She also held fellowships with the University of Canberra, Cambridge University, the University of Chicago, the University of Minneapolis, and Oxford.