Jane Mander was born in the small community of Ramarama south of Auckland. Her father, the Hon. Francis Mander, was Member of Parliament for Marsden and later purchased the Northern Advocate newspaper where Jane was to hone her skills as a journalist.
In 1907 Jane became Editor of the Dargaville North Auckland Times, before traveling to Sydney to work as a freelance journalist, submitting articles for the Maoriland Worker.
In 1912 Jane traveled further a field, to New York to study at the Columbia University where she excelled in her studies. However poor health forced her to abandon her studies after just three years. She joined the suffrage movement, campaigning for a state referendum, and worked for the Red Cross.
During this time she also worked on her most well known and highly praised novel The Story of a New Zealand River (1920). Despite being popular in the US and UK, it received a hostile reception back in New Zealand. This book is believed to be a significant influence on the acclaimed NZ film The Piano directed by Jane Campion.
In 1923 Jane moved to London, writing numerous essays, short stories and further novels, and acting as a London correspondent for many NZ newspapers.
Her health failing, Jane returned to NZ in 1932. She attempted to write her seventh novel but managed only a few articles before her death in Whangarei in 1949, aged 72.