An American author of romance novels and historical fiction works, she is best known for her popular Williamsburg books, which follow several generations of a fictional family from the American Revolution through World War II. Her other novels include From This Day Forward (1941) and The Lost General (1953).
She became a freelance writer in the 1920s and briefly worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood. She published her first novel, Riders of the Wind, in 1926.
Her Williamsburg series began in 1943 with Dawn's Early Light and ended in 1957 with Homing.
She was born Helen Ricker in Burlington, Iowa, and grew up as the daughter of a teacher and a high school principal.
Edith Roosevelt, the wife of Theodore Roosevelt, was present at Thane's wedding to naturalist William Beebe.