Emma Frost is a leading member of an old Boston mercantile family which arrived from England in the 1600s. She inherited a good deal of wealth, but most of her large fortune is the result of her business successes. She rose rapidly through the world of business thanks to her intelligence, drive, personal charm, and her secret use of her psionic abilities. She eventually became the majority stockholder of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate, which has been renamed Frost International after herself. Despite her youth, she is now a chairperson of the board of Frost International and its chief executive officer. Frost International is principally involved in transportation (both the building of ships and aircraft and their use for freight and passenger transport) and electronics. Emma Frost has also become chairperson of the board of trustees of the Massachusetts Academy, a college preparatory school for grades seven through twelve located in the Berkshire Mountains in Snow Valley, Massachusetts. Frost serves as the academy's headmistress and spends a great deal of her time there.
Emma Frost's beauty and talents brought her an invitation to join the Hellfire Club, an elite social organization of the world's wealthy and powerful figures. Frost became the ally of Sebastian Shaw who was a member of the Club's Council of the Chosen, which secretly conspires to achieve world domination through economic and political means. Like Frost, Shaw was a mutant. The Leaders of the Club and Council, its foremost Lords Cardinal, were the White King Edward Buckman and the White Queen Paris Seville. (The Lords Cardinal are given titles corresponding to the names of chess pieces). Buckman threw the Council's support behind Project Armageddon which was scientist Steven Lang's program to build Sentinel robots and have them hunt down superhuman mutants). Knowing Shaw was himself a mutant Buckman told him that the Project was intended to capture superhuman mutants for use by the council in seeking power. However, Frost, through her psionic powers, learned that the Project was actually intended as a means of destroying all superhuman mutants. Together Shaw and Frost staged a coup that gave them control of the Council of the Chosen, which they renamed the Inner Circle. Shaw took the title of Black King and Frost became the new White Queen.
Under Shaw and Frost, the Inner Circle was dominated by superhuman mutants. Frost recruited young superhuman mutants and trained them in the use of their powers at her school so that they might use those powers on the Inner Circle's behalf. Most of these mutant students were members of a team called the Hellions.
Frost first encountered the team of mutants called the X-Men when she attempted to recruit young mutant Katherine "Kitty" Pryde for her school and captured a number of X-Men. Since then, Frost has crossed paths with the X-Men and their associates, the New Mutants, many times, often as their adversary.
Later, the X-Men joined with the Hellions in order to protect the White Queen from a time-traveling attacker known as Trevor Fitzroy, but not before Fitzroy's brutal assault plunged Frost into a deep coma and brought about the untimely demise of each and every one of the Hellions. Frost's consciousness was apparently still active on the material plane and her body was kept in the Med-lab at the X-Men's mansion. Seeking to insure the welfare of her students and the future of the school, Frost foresightedly willed the care of the Academy to Professor Charles Xavier. It was during her psychic incapacitation that The Massachusetts Academy was legally added to the rapidly expanding Xavier Institute. While in the Med-lab an accident caused Frost to possess the body of the X-Man Iceman, and likewise, his mind was transferred into her body. Frost returned to her own body and when she fully recovered from the coma she resumed her role as headmistress of the academy. This time however she has been working with the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning and receives help from Sean Cassidy. He acts as the headmaster of this school designed to train a new set of mutants, who are known as Generation X.