Tessa Wooldridge grew up in Melbourne and the central Victorian city of Bendigo. She undertook her secondary education at Methodist Ladies' College, Kew, and completed a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University. She later gained Graduate Diplomas in Education and in Library and Information Management at the University of Canberra, and a Master of Arts (Writing) through the University of New England.
Wooldridge has worked as a primary school teacher, researcher and editor. She has also been an indexer with AustLit (2001-2014) and its predecessor AUSTLIT (1994-2000). Together with Jane Rankine, Wooldridge was appointed an AustLit Emeritus Indexer in 2014.