Born in Neptune, New Jersey, she is the daughter of author John Freely, and has a brother, Brendan. Maureen Freely grew up in Turkey. She graduated from Harvard College. She now lives in England.
She is the mother of four children and two step-children.
Freely is an atheist.
Freely lectures at the University of Warwick and is an occasional contributor to The Guardian and The Independent newspapers. She is the current president of English PEN, the founding centre of PEN International.
Among her novels is The Life of the Party, set in Turkey. She has also written The Other Rebecca, a contemporary version of Daphne du Maurier's classic 1938 novel Rebecca. Freely is also an occasional contributor to Cornucopia, a magazine about Turkey.
She is best known as the Turkish-into-English translator of Orhan Pamuk's recent novels. She works closely with Pamuk on these translations, because they often serve as the basis when his work is translated into other languages. They were both educated simultaneously at Robert College in Istanbul, although they did not know each other at the time.
- Sailing Through Byzantium (2013)
- Enlightenment (2008)
- The Other Rebecca (2000)
- Mother's Helper (1982)
- The Stork Club (1995)
- What About Us (1996)
- The Parent Trap (2002)
- Under the Vulcania (1994)
- The Life of the Party (1986)
of Orhan Pamuk:
- The Black Book
- Other Colors: Essays and a story
- Istanbul: Memories and the City
- The Museum of Innocence
- My Grandmother
- Madonna in a Fur Coat (with Alexander Dawe)
- The Time Regulation Institute 
- A Useless Man
- "Professor Maureen Freely - University of Warwick". www2.warwick.ac.uk. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- Jason Goodwin (n.d.). "Enlightenment (book review)". Washington Post Book World. Retrieved July 19, 2009.
- Freely, Maureen (November 25, 2003). "Istanbul after the bombs". The Guardian. Retrieved October 22, 2008.
- "Hijuelos has a way of making even the most uninspiring life unique, the ugliest scene beautiful. This devout atheist was moved and at moments even transported." Maureen Freely, reviewing Mr Ives' Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos, The Guardian (London), December 17, 1995, p. 15.
- Staff page Archived November 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, University of Warwick.
- Freely, Maureen (2006). "Languages in my life". The Linguist. 45 (4): 108–110.
- Freely, Maureen (May 2007). "Why they killed Hrant Dink". Index on Censorship. 36 (2): 15–29. doi:10.1080/03064220701334477.
- Çetin, Fethiye, My Grandmother: A Memoir, 2008.
- "Sabahattin Ali’s Madonna in a Fur Coat – the surprise Turkish bestseller", The Guardian. Retrieved June 12, 2016.