Maud Gonne was born in Hampshire in England in 1865. Her mother died while Maud was still a child, and so she was sent to France to be educated. In 1882 her father, an army officer, was posted to Dublin. She accompanied him and remained with him until his death. She returned to France after a bout of tuberculosis and fell in love with a politician. They agreed to fight for Irish freedom and the regaining of Alsace and Lorraine for France. She returned to Ireland and worked tirelessly for the release of Irish political prisoners from jail.
In 1890 she returned to France where she once again met the politician Lucien Millevoye. Between 1893 and 1895 the couple had two children together. The second, a girl named Iseult, survived. During the 1890's Maud travelled extensively throughout England, Scotland and the United States campaigning for the nationalist cause. In 1899 her relationship with Millevoye ended. At Easter 1900 she founded Inghinidhe na Éireann, a revolutionary women's society. In April 1902 she took a leading role in a play by W.B Yeats entitled Cathleen Ní Houlihan. She gave a powerful acting performance in that production.
In the same year Maud joined the Catholic Church. The following year, (1903), she married John MacBride in Paris. In 1904 their son Sean MacBride was born. However the marriage was a failure and MacBride returned to Ireland. Maud remained in Paris until 1917. In 1918 she was arrested in Dublin and imprisoned in England for six months. During the War of Independence she worked with the White Cross for the relief of victims of violence. In 1921 she opposed the Treaty and advocated the Republican side. In 1922 she settled in Dublin. In 1938 she published her autobiography entitled A Servant Queen.