Marion Victoria Dorn's parents were Diodemus Socrates Dorn (1860–1913), a lawyer, and Camille Johnson (1870–1932), she was one of five children. From 1912 to 1916 she was educated at Stanford University (with a bachelor of arts in graphic arts).
She moved to San Francisco and shared a studio in Russian Hill, with her former tutor, the artist Henry Varnum Poor, he was her husband from July 1919 to October 1923. In 1919 Poor and Dorn moved to New City, New York, and Dorn gained notice as a designer of batiks.
In Paris in 1923 she met the poster designer Edward McKnight Kauffer (1890–1954), and subsequently resided with him in London, from late 1923 to July 1940. They married in 1950 and moved to New York until his death in 1954.
Dorn's career took off in the early 1920s with her move to London, she was creating batik textiles as well as printing on silk, linen, velvet at the time. Five of her batiks were featured in Vogue magazine in May 1925 which helped her gain popularity and showed her inventiveness.