Emma-Louise Corrin was born in Royal Tunbridge Wells, England. Her father, Chris Corrin, is a businessman and her mother, Juliette Corrin, is a speech therapist from South Africa. Corrin has two younger brothers, Richard and Jonty.

She attended the Roman Catholic Woldingham School in Surrey, an all-girls boarding school where she developed her interest in acting and dance. Corrin took a gap year, during which she took a Shakespeare course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and volunteered as a teacher at a school in Knysna, South Africa. Corrin studied drama at the University of Bristol, but left to read Education, English, Drama and the Arts at St John’s College, Cambridge.