Norah Braden was born in Margate, Kent and studied book illustration at Central School of Art, London from 1919-1921 and then painting, transferring later to pottery, at the Royal College of Art 1921-1925.
In 1925 she joined the Leach Pottery in St Ives as a pupil on the recommendation of Sir William Rothenstein, a tutor at the RCA. Braden was considered "the most sensitive and critical of potters" by Leach and highly regarded by Michael Cardew who was one of her contemporaries at St Ives. She was highly self-critical, destroying much of her work that did not satisfy her and her output at St Ives was small. In 1928 she joined Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie as a partner at Coleshill, where the two potters carried out extensive experimentation with ash glazes. They exhibited together regularly in London, notably in Muriel Rose's Little Gallery in 1929 and at Patersons in Bond Street in 1930. The 1930 exhibition was highly praised by The Times , which was unusual for a ceramics exhibition at that time. The two potters also exhibited at the Red Rose Guild in Manchester, showing work along side Leach, Cardew, Charles and Nell Vyse and William Staite Murray.
Braden left Coleshill in 1936 to move back to Sussex to care for her elderly mother and teach at Brighton College of Art. Henry Hammond and Paul Barron were among her pupils. She reduced her pottery production after that, and finally ceased potting in the early 1950s. Braden continued however to teach at Brighton and, after the war, part-time at the Bishop Otter College, Chichester. She died in West Sussex in 2001 at the age of 99.