Jane Brooke was born in Normanton, Yorkshire in 1951. Her family moved to the nearby market town of Pontefract when she was 9. She attended Pontefract and District Girls High School, and then York University. She was a research assistant at Stirling University, and did postgraduate work at Lancaster and Edinburgh Universities.
She trained as a historian and social scientist, and worked as an urban planner and policy advisor in Scottish local government in Glasgow and Paisley, but also advised an international group of voluntary organisations at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York.
She is the co-author of various articles on urban development and sustainability, edited “Housing and the Environment: The New Agenda,” published by the Chartered Institute of Housing in 1992 and was Secretary of the Green Party in Scotland.
Philip O’Brien and Jane Brooke married in 2001. Philip O’Brien has 2 sons by his first wife Jacqueline, who died in 2000.