Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Yvonne Brewster went to the UK to study drama in the mid-1950s at the Rose Bruford College - where she was the UK's first Black woman drama student - and at the Royal Academy of Music, where she received a distinction in Drama and Mime, and was a pupil of Marcel Marceau. She returned to Jamaica to teach Drama and in 1965 she also jointly founded (with Trevor Rhone) The Barn in Kingston, Jamaica's first professional theatre company.
Upon her return to England she worked extensively in radio, television, and directing for Stage Productions. She has worked on many films, among them The Harder They Come, Smile Orange and The Marijuana Affair, and for BBC TV The Fight Against Slavery and My Father Sun Sun Johnson. Between 1982 and 1984, she was Drama Officer at the Arts Council of Great Britain. Revered as one of Britain's best established and most respected black theatre directors, Yvonne was until February 2003 Artistic Director of the country's leading black theatre company Talawa, which she established in 1985 together with Mona Hammond, Inigo Espegel and Carmen Munroe.
She was awarded an Order of the British Empire for Services to the Arts in 1993, and in 2001 she was granted an honorary Doctorate from the Open University. In 2005, the University of London's Central School of Speech and Drama conferred an honorary fellowship on Brewster in acknowledgment of her involvement in the development of British theatre.
In 2004 she published The Undertaker’s Daughter: The Colourful Life of a Theatre Director (Arcadia Books). She has also edited five collections of plays, including Barry Reckord's For the Reckord (Oberon Books, 2010) and Mixed Company: Three Early Jamaican Plays, published by Oberon Books in 2012.