Dearborn graduated from Brown University in 1977 with a degree in English and Classics. In 1978 she got her M.A. from Columbia University from the Department of English and Comparative Literature. She received her Ph.D from Columbia in 1984 for her dissertation "Pocahontas's Daughters: Gender and Ethnicity in American Culture Since the Civil War."
Dearborn currently lives in New York City.
Pocahontas's Daughters: Gender and Ethnicity in American Culture (1986)
Love in the Promised Land: The Story of Anzia Yezierska and John Dewey (1988)
"The Happiest Man Alive": A Biography of Henry Miller (1991)
Queen of Bohemia: The Life of Louise Bryant (1996)
Mailer: A Biography (1999)
Mistress of Modernism: The Life of Peggy Guggenheim (2004)