An American writer and teacher, she is best known for her 1984, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Foreign Affairs. Her other works include The Truth About Lorin Jones (1989) and The War Between the Tates (1974).
She graduated from Radcliffe College in the late 1940s. She began teaching children's literature at Cornell University in the early 1970s.
She often wrote reviews of children's literature for the New York Review of Books.
She had three children with her first husband, Jonathan Peale Bishop. Later, she married Edward Hower.
Her novel, Foreign Affairs, was made into a television movie starring Eric Stoltz.