Adnams was born in Derby and lived and worked there for most of her life. She remains a little-known figure, never joining any of the British surrealist groups, rarely featuring in the press, and exhibiting mainly in the Midlands. She trained as a modern languages teacher but in the 1930s took evening classes at Derby School of Art where she was taught by Alfred Bladen, a Derby artist who shared her interest in Surrealism. In 1938 Adnams became an art teacher and around this time she started painting in a surrealist style; putting apparently unrelated objects together in mysterious scenes, and rarely if ever including figures. She became head of the art department at Derby Training College in 1946. Adnams stopped painting around 1968 due to deteriorating eyesight.