Edna Tutt Frederikson was born in Everton, Arkansas, on January 23, 1904, to David Walker and Britia Martia McNair Tutt; her family later relocated to Arkansas City, Kansas. President of her senior class and editor of the school yearbook, she graduated from Arkansas City High School in 1922. In June 1923, she married Otto Frovin Frederikson, her high school debate coach, and in 1925, she graduated with a bachelor's degree from Parsons College, in Fairfield, Iowa. The Fredericksons pursued graduate studies at the Universities of Iowa and Nebraska, and each received a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1931. Mrs. Frederikson's doctoral dissertation, a biography of Kansas Governor John Pierce St. John, was published in 1930. She taught history for a summer at Kansas State College and then moved in 1931 with her husband to Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he joined the faculty of Madison College (later James Madison University) as professor of history and social science. Mrs. Frederikson joined the Madison faculty in 1932 as an instructor in the English department and worked her way up to associate professor before resigning in 1941. While in Harrisonburg, she supervised the Madison College News Service, including the student newspaper.
In 1940, Mrs. Frederikson won a fellowship to attend the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Middleburg, Vermont. She met many writers and publishers there, with whom she shared her first manuscript, Three Parts Earth, a fictionalized account of her childhood years of poverty in the rural South. Two of her acquaintances, Katherine Anne Porter and Eudora Welty, were especially influential in Mrs. Frederikson's decision in 1941 to devote all of her energies to creative writing. Katherine Anne Porter became something of a mentor for Mrs. Frederikson during this period when she made the transition from teaching to creative writing. In the early 1950s, Mrs. Frederikson completed a second novel; unfortunately, the typed manuscript was lost in transit and never recovered.
After Otto Frederikson retired in 1957, the Frederiksons spent much of their time travelling around the world. Three Parts Earth was finally published in 1972, achieving enough success to merit several printings. After her husband's death in October 1973, Mrs. Frederikson continued writing fiction and poetry, spending several years in the late 1970s at literary colonies, including Yaddo, where her application had been denied in the early 1940s. A collection of her poetry, Never Tomorrow, was published in 1988. At the time of her death on February 7, 1998, she was working on a novelistic triptych entitled, "The Idea of Love," an account of a young writer's quest for professional recognition.