Skinner was born in Moncton, New Brunswick, in eastern Canada, on 22 September 1902, to Herbert Havelock Warman and his wife Agnes Lynn, née Orr. She attended the Leland Powers School for the Spoken Word in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States, and graduated in 1923. There she met Margaret Prendergast McLean, and through her, William Tilly, whose assistant she became in 1926. She studied at Columbia University, where she obtained a bachelor's degree in 1930 and a master's in 1931.
From 1937 to 1974, Skinner was on the faculty of the Carnegie Institute of Technology (later Carnegie-Mellon University) in Pittsburgh. She also taught at the Juilliard Theater Center in New York, and at the University of Wisconsin.
Skinner wrote Speak with Distinction: Exercises, which was published in 1942 and has been reprinted several times. Collections of her papers are held by the New York Public Library in New York City, and by the University of Pittsburgh.
- Taylor, Trey (8 August 2013). "The Rise and Fall of Katharine Hepburn's Fake Accent". The Atlantic. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- "Skinner, Edith". Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- David Sleasman (1992). Finding aid: Edith Warman Skinner Papers, CTC.1984.01. Guides to Archives and Manuscript Collections at the University of Pittsburgh Library System. Accessed January 2017.
- [s.n.] (28 July 1981). "Edith Skinner". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- Neil McFee Skinner Papers, 1929-1944. The New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division. Accessed January 2017.
- Papers of Edith Warman Skinner, 1902-1981. PittCat – Online Catalog of the University of Pittsburgh Libraries. Accessed January 2017.