Irma Liberty was born in Cape Town and schooled at Livingstone High School, Claremont in Cape Town. She completed her BA Honours in English Literature and Social Anthropology at King’s College, Cambridge in 1979 and returned to Cape Town at the end of 1979. She worked as a journalist at the Cape Herald in 1980 and spent one year as an assistant on a project in African history at the South African Committee for Higher Education (SACHED). She worked as a librarian for five years and as an information specialist for 22 years. She regards herself as a cultural activist.