Doina Cornell spent her childhood sailing around the world with her family on a small yacht, experiences she wrote about in her memoir Child of the Sea. Much of her working life has been with the family business Cornell Sailing, organising international sailing events and publishing specialist sailing books. With her father Jimmy she co-authored World Cruising Destinations, and she won the 1998 London Arts Board short story competition with her story Does the Sun Rise over Dagenham? which is still a set text on some university courses.

She has lived in Gloucestershire since 2000. She was married for 17 years to Czech dissident and philosopher Julius Tomin, with whom she has two children, and now lives in Dursley with her partner, trade unionist and journalist Tim Lezard.

She is a founding member of Dursley After Hours, bringing free live music to the town’s marketplace through the summer months. In 2023 she wrote the play High Wild Hills, a modern-day re-telling of the old story that Shakespeare spent his lost years in Dursley.

Doina served as district councillor for the town of Dursley from 2012-2024 and from 2018-2022 was leader of Stroud District Council, the first ‘carbon neutral’ council in Europe, run by a cooperative alliance of Labour, Green and Liberal Democrats. Doina led the council through the pandemic, overseeing investment into community organisations, the local economy and environmental projects to reduce emissions across the district. She left the Labour Party in 2022 following the party’s leadership blocking her standing for parliament, and served as an Independent councillor until the end of her term in 2024. She remains involved in environmental, community and political activism and is chair of the GL11 Community Hub.

No longer being an elected politician has given Doina time to return to her first love, writing, a journey which began in 1978 in the Solomon Islands when she wrote her first poems.