Born in 1970, Rachel Mann grew up in Worcestershire before studying Philosophy at university. In the mid-nineties, whilst working on a PhD, she was Teaching Fellow in the Philosophy Department at Lancaster before a sense of vocation led to a move to inner-city Manchester in church-related community work. She’s been based in and around Manchester pretty much ever since. In addition to her philosophy training, she holds qualifications in Theology, Creative Writing, and English Literature, including a PhD on Nineteenth-Century Women's Poetry and the Bible.
She began writing poetry, liturgy and short stories in the late nineties as a result of major ill-health. She has also written feminist liturgical theology, cultural history and has been a regular contributor to The Church Times. She has published eleven full-length books, including Dazzling Darkness (Wild Goose) and Fierce Imaginings (D.L.T.), as well as contributing to many others. Fierce Imaginings was shortlisted for the international Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing, and her debut poetry collection, A Kingdom of Love (Carcanet) was highly commended in the Forward Poetry Prizes. In 2020, her debut novel The Gospel of Eve was published to wide acclaim.
In addition she has written extensively on music, particularly prog, folk and metal. She was Metal/Rock reviewer for manchestermusic.co.uk and has worked freelance for magazines like Prog Magazine and The Quietus.
She also enjoys broadcasting and has appeared as a panellist on The Moral Maze and Beyond Belief, as well as contributing to many programmes on BBC radio and television. She is a regular contributor to Thought For The Day on BBC Radio 4, Pause For Thought on BBC Radio 2, and presents the Daily Service and contributes to Prayer For The Day.
Ordained into the Church of England in 2005, Rachel is Archdeacon of Salford and Bolton. Between October 2009 and September 2017 she was Poet-in-Residence and Minor Canon at Manchester Cathedral. During this period she acted as lead person for the Cathedral’s International Religious Poetry Competition and also helped establish the annual ‘Manchester Sermon’, a collaboration between Manchester Literature Festival and the Cathedral. Appointed an Honorary Canon of Manchester Cathedral in 2017, she is Visiting Teaching Fellow in the Manchester Writing School, MMU, and Visiting Scholar in Sarum College. She is a Trustee of Emmanuel Theological College and a member of the Church of England's theological advisory board, the Faith And Order Commission. She is also a member of the General Synod, and Chair of the House of Clergy in Manchester Diocesan Synod.