Doreen Gamboa Fernandez was born on October 28, 1934 in Manila.

Her PhD in Literature was obtained at the Ateneo de Manila University, 1977. Her Masters degree in Literature was from the same university. Her undergraduate degree in English was obtained at the St. Scholastica College in 1954.

She worked as Professor of the Ateneo de Manila University, as Chairperson of Department of English, Interdisciplinary Studies and Department of Communication and as member of the Editorial Boards of Philippine Studies, Filipinas Journal of Philippine Studies, and The Asian Theatre Journal.

Fernandez was founding chairperson of the Cultural Research Association of the Philippines in 1975 and was also co-founder of the Babaylan Theater Group in 1973.

Her writings focused on cultural history, drama, theater history, literary history and culinary history. Her column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer made her famous. An eponymous writing contest on food was established to commemorate her work.