Felicia Browne was born at Thames Ditton on 18th February 1904. She studied at the St John's Wood School of Art and the Slade Art School where she studied with Henry Tonks, William Coldstream, Nan Youngman and Claude Rogers.
In 1928 Felicia Browne went to Berlin to study metalwork at Charlottenburg Technische Stadtschule, then became an apprentice to a stone mason from 1929-1931. Youngman said, "Felicia was much more aware of the political situation than any of us. In 1928 she went to Berlin to study sculpture, living with unemployed fellow artists. Witnessing the Nazis come to power led her to the Communist party, which she joined in 1933." While in Germany she took part in ant-fascist activities.
Felicia Browne won a scholarship to Goldsmiths College to study metal-work. She also found work teaching at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and was also a member of the Artists International Association. James Hopkins, the author of Into the Heart of the Fire: The British in the Spanish Civil War (1998) argues: "Felicia Browne possessed a strong dislike of privilege as well as abstemious personal habits and genuine artistic talent. She donated her personal fortune to refugees, and, in a subsequent period of privation, took employment in a restaurant kitchen. Her ability to speak four languages eased her travels through some of the most remote parts of Europe. She made her living by sketching portraits of people in the villages in which she stayed, traveling as far as the Tatra mountains in Czechoslovakia."
Felicia Browne visited the Soviet Union in 1931. On her return she increased her anti-fascist activities. In 1933 she joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. The following year she won a prize for her design of a Trade Union Congress medal commemorating the centenary of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
In 1936 Felicia Browne travelled to Spain with her friend, Edith Bone, a photographer. When the army revolted in July 1936, Browne joined the Republican militia in defence of the Popular Front government. Browne argued that "I am a member of the London Communists and can fight as well as any man." The fact that a British woman was fighting in the militia was reported in August in the Daily Express.
It was suggested to Felicia Browne that she should concentrate on her art: "You say I am escaping and evading things by not painting or making sculpture. If there is no painting or sculpture to be made, I cannot make it. I can only make out of what is valid and urgent to me. If painting or sculpture were more valid or urgent to me than the earthquake which is happening in the revolution, or if these two were reconciled so that the demands of the one didn't conflict (in time, even, or concentration) with the demands of the other, I should paint or make sculpture."
While she was in Barcelona, Browne learned of a mission to blow up a fascist munitions train and boldly volunteered for it. However, the party attempted to dissuade her participation. According to a Daily Express reporter, she defied the orders and went to party offices, where she "demanded to be enlisted to fight on the Saragossa front." Browne reportedly said, "I am a member of the London Communists, and can fight as well as any man."
James Hopkins, the author of Into the Heart of the Fire: The British in the Spanish Civil War (1998) points out: "A German comrade on the raid, George Brinkman, has left a fascinating typewritten report, describing their mission... According to Brinkman, the pudgy, bespectacled Browne was forced to clear a final gender hurdle before being allowed to accompany the raiding party. She went to its leader and asked if he would accept a woman comrade as a volunteer. After attempting to intimidate Browne by telling her of the dangers that awaited them, and failing, he accepted her as one of the ten who would attempt the hazardous mission. They left Tardienta by car and traveled to the farthest point of the front, where they disembarked and walked about twelve kilometers to the rail line. Browne and two others were told to keep watch and signal if there was trouble. The remaining seven moved close to the tracks. They set the charges with only thirty seconds remaining before the train passed."
On 25th August 1936, Browne was killed in Aragón during an attempt to blow up a rebel munition train. according to Georges Brinkman: "... although under heavy fire, she was trying to help a wounded member of the group". Browne was the first British volunteer to be killed in the Spanish Civil War. As Angela Jackson pointed out in British Women and the Spanish Civil War (2002): "Her story has all the ingredients essential to heroic legend, the willing sacrifice of her life to save that of a comrade."
In her obituary in the Artists International Association journal it said: "She had most of the best human characteristics, but she conceived her own variety more as a source of opposition than of enjoyment. She was without guile, duplicity or vanity; painfully truthful and honest, immensely kind and generous, completely humane, loving any aspect of livingness, and as capable of enormous humour as she was deeply serious. She was gifted at every craft that she tried, a witty letter-writer, an amusing cartoonist, a vital and interesting companion, and socially much too gracious to belong credibly to the twentieth century."
Her friend and colleague Nan Youngman organized her memorial exhibition in October 1936.