Like Agnes Macphail, Donna Mann grew up in a home where politics and community were important, a father’s consent must come before a girl could continue her education, and only certain vocations were acceptable. But continue she did, to university in Waterloo and Toronto, Ontario, and Newburgh, Indiana.
In her studies and research into her own family’s past, Donna Mann gained an awareness of the strength and work of women. She wondered, "Where are their stories?"
She began to write about Agnes Macphail first because she identified with her, then because she recognized how Agnes’s love of country and of people shone through her public life. Finally, Donna Mann discovered that outside particular circles, awareness of the work and witness of Agnes Macphail was fading. Since there was very little known about Agnes’s childhood, Donna kept asking, "Who was the little girl who grew into this confident Canadian leader, a woman who showed tenacity and vulnerability through her love for others?"
The author of two books for adults and many articles in newspapers, Donna Mann lived for many years in Grey County, Ontario, where she has led the movement to mark sites important in the life of Agnes Macphail.