Rachel Matt Thorn was born May 12, 1965, in Pennsylvania. She first discovered manga (Japanese comics) as an exchange student at Konan University in 1985. In 1988, she began to study shōjo manga (girls' and women's comics) in earnest at the University of Illinois, where she earned a Master of Arts in East Asian & Pacific Studies. While shifting the focus of her study to what manga mean to the girls and women who read them, she also began professionally translating such manga as Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, Ranma 1/2, and Banana Fish. In 1991, she entered Columbia University's doctoral program in cultural anthropology. With a fellowship from the Japan Foundation, she conducted field work in the Hanshin area from 1994 to 1995. She earned a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy at Columbia. In addition to research and translation, she wrote a column on for Animerica and became known as a shōjo manga evangelist. In 1997, she moved to Kyoto and began teaching at Kyoto Seika University. In 1998, she began work on creating a "department of story manga" for the university, and in 2000 she became a permanent, full-time associate professor in the newly created program. In Japanese, she's written columns for Dokushojin, The Japan Times Weekly ST, and Kyoto Newspaper. From 2003 to 2005, she served as a judge in the Tezuka Osamu Culture Award. Recent translations include Hagio Moto's Otherworld Barbara, The Heart of Thomas, and A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, as well as Shimura Takako's Wandering Son.