Jean R. Brink (nee Jeanie Renee Wise) was born in Frankfort, IN and reared in Indianapolis, IN. She graduated from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL with honors in English and Phi Beta Kappa. She received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, attended Harvard, and earned an M.A. She was then employed at University of Wisconsin, Whitewater where she attended classes at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She earned her doctorate from UW-Madison in English and Comparative Literature with specializations in early modern literature and classics. At the same time, she received a Fulbright to teach American Literature at the University of Stockholm, an award she did not accept.

Marrying Daniel Theodore Brink, a Wisconsin PhD in Germanic philology, she accompanied him to Monmouth College in Monmouth, IL. His next position was at the University of California, Berkeley and hers at San Jose State University. She was hired by the English Department at Arizona State University; Dan continued as a visiting professor in German at Berkeley; the English Department hired Dan after she taught for them for three years.

At Arizona State University, Jean R. Brink established the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), the first statewide organized research unit in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, in the United States. After her husband Dan died of brain cancer at 57, Jean took early retirement from ASU and moved to southern California where she has been a research scholar at the Henry E. Huntington Library.